On a beautiful night from South Field, the BYU Cougars held off the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1. The Earthquakes are the under 23 squad for the Major League Soccer with the same name. The Under 23 squad bridges the gap from the academy team and the MLS squad. They are one of four MLS squads that field this development team. With the win, the Cougars remain undefeated and untied and lead the Mountain Division with a perfect nine points.
The first half started with both teams playing ball control as they felt each other out. BYU began to take control and kept the ball on the San Jose side of the field for much of the early game, but missed on their first real shot as Jace Green knocked the ball off the post. In the eighth minute the Cougars broke through as Blake Frischnecht went one on one with a defender and knocked it off the hand of the San Jose goalie, Jesus Guzman, and into the net. Just three minutes later Frischnecht tried again, but hit the ball just right of the post.
For the first 30 minutes the Cougars dictated the speed of the game and only allowed one good shot on goal. Neither team took control until the 28th minute when a penalty on San Jose was called inside the box. With Frischnecht trying to receive the ball in the box, he was pushed in the back as he jumped. Frischnect pushed the penalty kick pushed the ball into the right corner as Guzman dove left for his second goal of the game, and third of the PDL season.
With a two goal lead the Cougars lost a little momentum and the Earthquake began to press. The Cougars could only muster one more quality shot in the half as a pass from Frischnecht to Green was saved on an acrobatic play by Guzman. In the 38th minute the Earthquake got the ball deep in Cougar territory and Michael Minutillo slipped one past Brian Hale to cut the Cougars lead in half. San Jose would miss an open net shot during the stoppage time and the Cougars went into the half 2-1.
Both teams came out of the locker room a bit off their game as the majority of the half was highlighted by pressure and turnovers by both teams. In the 51st minute Garrett Gee had a good shot but couldn't convert for the Cougars. The Earthquake seemed to keep the momentum as they kept the ball on the Cougars side of the field in the early going, but at about the 65th minute the Cougars decided to take back the momentum and forced the ball to the Earthquakes side of the field.
The Cougars missed a prime opportunity to score when Guzman was found out of position, leaving the net clear, but the defenders kept the ball from reaching the net and causing a turnover after the corner kick. In the 74th minute San Jose broke through the Cougar defense and Minutillo went one on one with Hale but a great save kept the ball in play. In the 77th minute they had another chance to tie the game when the Cougars were called for a penalty just outside the box but again couldn't convert.
In the 80th minute the Earthquakes were awarded a yellow card when Nicholas Cashmere tackled from behind but the Cougars couldn't take advantage. As the clock wound down the Cougars tried to play to run time off the clock as they didn't take many chances on offense and played tight on defense. San Jose had a couple of chances to score but couldn't get the ball past Hale. With three minutes of stoppage time the Earthquake made one last push to tie the game, but they couldn't get the equalizer.
BYU will play again on South Field on Saturday, May 24th at 7:30 pm against the Las Vegas Mobsters. Get your tickets and watch at South Field or watch online right here at Vanquish The Foe!