The San Jose Earthquakes U23 team is still in playoff contention.
After trouncing the second place Ventura County Fusion in a 2-1 win at home in Warrior Stadium this past Saturday, the Earthquakes U23 are now only five points away from the first place Misioneros with three contests left.
It was the substitute—Daniel Kuczynski—who eventually finished the game for the ‘Quakes with less than five minutes to play as he put his team up by one and drained the second score of the half to keep the Quakes' postseason hopes in reach.
“I was just playing my game and being composed out there and with the first 10 minutes you know you need to make an impact so you have to be calm,” said Kuczynski. “I think we can make the playoffs, we have to work hard and keep our training, stamina and all that up at a top level and I think we can do it.”
With the win, the Earthquakes are now 5-4-2 after playing one less game than every team in their division.
They are tied with the OC Pateadores in the Southwest Division, and have won four straight games, scoring an average of 3.5 goals per game in that span.
“When the team comes together and becomes more cohesive, then they naturally just become better,” said Earthquakes right back Devante Dubose. “We go out to eat, stay with each other in the dorms and every week we just seem to get better, you can see it out on the field.”
Dubose has been one of the most consistent players on the pitch for the Earthquakes as he has seen a large number of minutes played behind a defense that has only improved with the season progressing, having allowed only one goal in the last two games, including a clean sheet against the first place Misioneros in late June.
The only goal for the Fusion came in the 18th minute of play when on a free kick from about 20-yards out, Kina Colby was able to smack it in on the upper 90 with no problem.
After the goal, the Earthquakes came to life and took over the pitch for the remainder of the game, seeing two grand opportunities.
In the 21st, Luis Martinez was able to strike from just outside the corner of the penalty box, but missed the post by an inch.
Martinez found Christian Carranza open in the 36th minute, who struck from about 30 yards out in the center area — but it sailed wide left by a foot.
“Boy, we just seem to be getting better and better after every week,” said Earthquakes U23 head coach Dana Taylor.
With less than 20 minutes left, coach Taylor switched his defensive scheme to an offensive formation that included four forwards — and it paid off in the final minutes as the push was on.
Seth Casiple struck the tying goal in the 73rd minute on a free kick just outside the penalty box.
Not even 12 minutes later, Matt Wisenfarth placed a neat through ball into Kuczynski’s possession inside the 14 yard mark as he then beat his defender along and went one-on-one with the goalkeeper to sink the game-winner with five minutes left in regulation.
With only three contests left, the Earthquakes U23 team will play in a critical game against the first place Misioneros at the Glendale Sports Complex at 7:45 p.m. today.
“The other teams should be a bit scared because this team fights and you can see it on the field, you can feel it, it’s there,” Dubose said. “I think we can do it again with big wins, we will stick it to them. Plain and simple, we want to come out and win games because we brought it to the table and we really want to play for that patch on our chest.”