SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Cristian Espinoza scored two goals, the second coming on a late penalty kick, and the San Jose Earthquakes handed defending-champion Los Angeles FC its first loss of the season with a 2-1 victory on Saturday night.
A red-hot Espinoza scored eight minutes into the match to give San Jose (5-3-3) a 1-0 lead. Espinoza took passes from Jamiro Monteiro and Jeremy Ebobisse and scored his seventh goal of the season. Espinoza has contributed to at least one goal in six straight matches (7 goals, 1 assist). Only Chris Wondolowski had longer streaks for the Earthquakes.
Dénis Bouanga pulled LAFC (5-1-3) even in the 30th minute when he scored unassisted for his league-high-tying eighth goal of the season — joining the Seattle Sounders’ Jordan Morris and Espinoza in the race for the Golden Boot.
Espinoza’s eighth goal came on a penalty kick in the 83rd minute.
The Earthquakes beat LAFC for a fifth straight time at home after losing the first two meetings by a combined 9-3 score. San Jose is the first host team to beat LAFC five straight times. The Earthquakes have allowed just three goals in posting a 5-0-1 record at home to begin the season. San Jose has won 12 of its last 19 home matches after going 3-8-8 in their previous 19.
LAFC lost on the road for the first time in 10 matches dating to last season and including the playoffs.
LAFC entered play with 18 points through its first eight matches, the best start by a defending champ in league history.
LAFC outshot San Jose 17-9 with a 7-3 advantage in shots on target.
JT Marcinkowski saved six shots for San Jose. John McCarthy had one save for LAFC.
LAFC travels to play Real Salt Lake on Saturday. San Jose travels to play the LA Galaxy on Sunday.
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