SAN JOSE, CALIF. – Minnesota United took a position it hopes to keep a good long time Saturday with a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes.

The Loons roared to the top of the Western Conference, led by two headed goals from center back Ike Opara. The captain also drew a penalty and shut down San Jose's offense in an all-around performance.

The Loons are now 2-0-0 for the season, having defeated the Portland Timbers 3-1 last weekend, and Saturday night's statement victory signaled that they are ready to challenge for a top spot in the Western Conference.

Coach Adrian Heath stuck with the same starting lineup that defeated the Timbers, as well as the cagey, counterattacking style of play that he often employs on the road. Once again, the strategy paid dividends. The Loons successfully neutralized San Jose's speedy offensive threat Cristian Espinoza and looked to break with pace, roaring into the lead in the 12th minute when Opara converted Jan Gregus' near-post corner with a towering header.

"We did really well with [counterattacks] last week in Portland," Heath said. "I thought we were dangerous again today. It's not an easy place to come, here; everybody knows they play a little bit different than most teams and make it tough for you. But I did say that there are moments to counter if we can withstand their pressure. That was pretty much the case, if you look at the scoreline, and I think we could have had two or three others as well."

The Quakes responded with an intense spell of pressure, overwhelming Minnesota with overlapping runs from the fullbacks, and won a penalty in the 17th minute when Chase Gasper felled Tommy Thompson on the edge of the box. Although referee Baldomero Toledo originally let play go on, he pointed for a spot-kick after a brief video-assisted review and Magnus Eriksson coolly converted. The Loons gave up a similar spot-kick against Portland last weekend.

However, Minnesota's blistering attack more than made up for its defensive lapses. Luis Amarilla, Ethan Finlay and Kevin Molino's dynamic movement disrupted San Jose's unique man-marking scheme, and the visitors re-established their lead after just seven minutes. Amarilla held the ball up top and squared it to Gregus, who rocketed a shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards out.

Amarilla grabbed a goal of his own in the 32nd minute, rising unmarked in the box to head Molino's cross into the back of the net, and the Loons began to pull away. They made the lead four when Opara won a penalty shortly before the break, once again demonstrating his aerial ability.

Although Vega parried Amarilla's initial effort, Robin Lod pounced on the rebound to give Minnesota a comfortable three-goal lead.

San Jose stubbornly refused to give in. The home side adjusted formation at the half, moving to three-at-the-back, and also introduced teen Cade Cowell in a bid to kick-start their offense. They played with renewed energy, almost threatening a comeback when Vako volleyed a scrappy set-piece goal past Loons goalkeeper Tyler Miller.

Opara, however, went right down the other end and scored another powerful headed goal to secure the three points.