Shea Salinas scored in the final home game of his MLS career, and the San Jose Earthquakes put a dent in visiting Minnesota United’s playoff hopes with a 2-0 victory on Saturday night.
Salinas’ goal from a direct free kick shortly after halftime was his first since the 2020 MLS Cup playoffs. The fullback now has 22 MLS goals in 375 career appearances over 15 seasons overall and 13 with the Quakes.
Benji Kikanovic added his sixth goal of the season for San Jose (8-15-10, 34 points), which has already been eliminated from postseason contention but finished the season with a respectable 7-6-4 home record.
Minnesota (13-14-6, 45 points) is scrambling to remain in the playoff hunt following a fifth loss during a six-match winless run.
United has been outscored 14-2 over that stretch and would slide down to eighth in the West if Salt Lake won later Saturday at the LA Galaxy.
Minnesota will host the Vancouver Whitecaps, who also remained alive via their home victory over Austin on Saturday night, in their final match next Sunday
Salinas earned the free kick himself with a darting run through the center channel that ended at the penalty arc, where he was tripped up by defender Michael Boxall.
As Minnesota assembled its defensive wall, other players appeared to encourage Salinas — in his first start of the season — to take the free kick ahead of more familiar options.
He eventually obliged and, in the 52nd minute, took a right-footed shot that appeared to deflect off Minnesota attacker Emanuel Reynoso’s leg and past wrong-footed goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair.
It had been an even match until then, but the Quakes seized control after the goal. And their second goal through Kikanovic sealed a deserved win.
Jeremy Ebobisse received a pass from Paul Marie inside the center circle, turned and spotted Kikanovic with a one-on-one against a defender.
Kikanovic nearly flubbed his chance with a poor touch, but he managed to drag the ball back into a good shooting position and then fired a low strike beyond St. Clair and inside the left post.
–Field Level Media