San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)

Quakes win to welcome back fans


Seventeeny­earold homegrown player Cade Cowell had a goal and an assist Saturday, and the Earthquake­s beat Dallas 31 in their Major League Soccer home opener as they welcomed back fans to PayPal Park.

About 3,600 tickets were sold, approximat­ely 20% of the stadium’s capacity, in the first sporting event to have inperson attendance in Santa Clara County since the beginning of the pandemic 13 months ago.

“It was huge,” said Quakes goalkeeper JT Marcinkows­ki, an Alamo native. “They’re the heartbeat of this club. Their passion, their noise, their intensity throughout the game, it’s what gives us the extra boost. It’s just a different feeling when they’re there.”

The 49ers, who play at nearby Levi’s Stadium, went the entire 2020 NFL season without fans in their stadium, and the NHL’s Sharks, who play at SAP Center about 8 miles down the road from PayPal Park, will welcome back fans Monday for a game against the Arizona Coyotes.

MLB’s Giants at Oracle Park in San Francisco County and A’s at the Coliseum in Alameda County first welcomed back fans at their home openers earlier this month.

The NBA’s Warriors at Chase Center in San Francisco County hosted their first fans of the season Friday night.

Cowell, who is from Ceres (Stanislaus County) and trained at a youth academy in Pleasanton, split the Dallas back line with a through ball from just across midfield that led Cristian Espinoza into an open space to directly challenge the goalkeeper. Espinoza finished with a chip shot into the left corner, giving the Earthquake­s a 20 lead in the 49th minute.

Cowell weaved through two defenders to curl home a leftfooted shot into the bottom left corner, making it 30 in the 59th minute.

Overall, he had his second goal and second assist in his career with San Jose (110).

Oswaldo Alanis opened the scoring for San Jose with a penalty kick in the 34th minute.

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