The San Jose Earthquakes ensured that their U.S. Open Cup tournament will continue for another round, as a Steven Lenhart goal was the difference in a 1-0 victory over the Minnesota Stars. Coming in the 85th minute of a tense affair between the MLS and NASL opponents, Lenharts score from a Steven Beitashour assist allowed the 1,548 fans in attendance at Stanford Universitys Cagan Stadium to go home happy.
Up next for the Earthquakes will be a quarterfinal match with fellow MLS side Seattle Sounders on June 26 at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.
The Earthquakes had their best scoring chance of the first half when in the 27th minute Alan Gordon directed a deft pass into open space in the Minnesota area for Steven Lenhart. With just the goalkeeper to beat, Lenhart unleashed a blistering shot that Stars goalkeeper Matt VanOekel got a hand and deflected off the inside of the far post and bottom of the crossbar before being cleared by the defense.
In the 32nd minute, the Earthquakes again had an opportunity to break the deadlock, when the Minnesota defense could only clear the ball as far as the top of the area. Midfielder Marvin Chavez collected the loose ball and shot the ball directly at the keeper. He made the initial save, but the ball squirted away, and Lenhart reached it but not before fouling the goalkeeper.
The Stars had a chance to take the lead in the 37th minute, when on a counterattack against the run of play, midfielder Miguel Ibarra took a chance from 20 yards out that eluded the upward grasp of Quakes keeper David Bingham and skimmed off the top of the crossbar.
The two teams traded yellow cards as the first half wore down, with Stars captain Kyle Altman earning a caution for a tackle on Lenhart in the 42nd minute and Earthquakes defender Steven Beitashour seeing a card for obstruction in the 45th minute.
The Earthquakes opened the second half with a close effort from defender Ike Opara in the 48th minute that keeper VanOekel did well to tip over the bar.
The match turned into a track meet over the next twenty minutes as both sides looked to exploit defensive lapses by their opponents. Nothing came of the opportunities, but aggressive play from both teams led to yellow cards earned by Earthquakes captain Ramiro Corrales in the 55th minute and Stars defender Justin Davis in the 60th minute.
A heads-up play by Corrales nearly provided the pass that the Earthquakes needed to break the deadlock, as the captain stole a poor clearance attempt and sent the ball to the far post. Gordon jumped high into six yard to meet the ball, but could only direct his header high and wide of the target.
The Earthquakes made their first substitution in the 65th minute, as midfielder Simon Dawkins came in for a hobbled Sam Garza. In the 78th minute, another change brought Rafael Baca in for Gordon.
The Earthquakes finally broke through in the 85th minute, as some fancy footwork from Chavez on the right wing freed Beitashour on a deep overlapping run. From the byline the Quakes defender floated the ball into the area for Lenhart to head past the Stars goalkeeper for the San Jose goal.
With the minutes winding down, the Earthquakes brought in Sam Cronin for Moreno to salt away the match. Minnesota tried in vain to find an equalizer, but could not break through the Quakes defense, and the match ended 1-0 in favor of San Jose.