San Jose Earthquakes have done it again.
After failing to score all night and facing 1-0 deficit at home against Chicago Fire, Quakes were awarded a free kick in the dying seconds of the game 40 or so yards away from the goal. Shea Salinas sent the ball high into the penalty box, hoping that it will reach one of the Quakes players. Chris Wondolowski won the ball in the air and deflected it with his chest to his teammate Steven Lenhart. With a one timer, Quakes forward hit it low and on target. As great as Sean Johnson has been in goal for the Fire all night, he was powerless on the last kick, thus allowing Quakes to come back.
On a Steven Lenhart Wig Night, coming as a substitute after missing three weeks with a concussion, it was Lenhart himself with a tying goal to preserve a point and tie the game at 1-1.
"It couldn't happen to a nicer guy," said Quakes head coach Frank Yallop after the game. "He's had a lot of stuff in life that's not gone well in the last two years. I'm just pleased for Lenny. All the guys like Lenny. We are all really happy when he does something positive for the team."
While celebrating the goal, Lenhart grabbed one of the wigs laying on the sideline, put it on and ran around celebrating it with the crowd.
The Quakes did deserve a point on the night - and perhaps more, but it was Chicago's man in goal Sean Johnson who almost stole three. He was making save after save - sometimes in impossible situations to keep the game tied at 0-0 and then 1-0 in favor of Chicago all the way until the last seconds of the game.
None of his saves were better than the one he made on Simon Dawkins who had a sure chance in the first half after receiving a great pass from his teammate Chris Wondolowski. Dawkins seem to have been doing the right thing by sending the ball against Johnson's movement, but Chicago's keeper somehow made the save with his foot.
In the second half Johnson made another nearly impossible save - this time on Alan Gordon who put the header on the net, just to see Johnson reach out and make the last moment save. After seeing the ball deflected, Gordon fell on the grass in disbelief.
"I've not seen a performance like that in a long time, live or on TV," said Frank Yallop of Johnson's game against San Jose. "I thought he made three or four unbelievable saves, especially on Alan Gordon's header."
Despite the Quakes' possession and numerous scoring chances, it was Chicago Fire that scored the first goal in the first half of the game. The situation looked safe - Chicago had the ball and their players were just approaching the San Jose box. Fire midfielder Chris Rolfe had the ball a few yards outside the box, and he noticed the Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch standing perhaps a few steps too far from the goal. Sensing the scoring chance, Rolfe flicked the ball with his toe over Busch and into the net to make it 1-0 for Chicago.
Busch redeemed himself later in the game, as he made several key stops and kept the Quakes within one goal of earning a point. They kept coming at the end of the game, and their efforts were at last rewarded on a great shot by Lenhart.
"What I liked about the whole evening was our general play going in the right direction - toward [Chicago's] goal." said Frank Yallop after the game. "It wasn't a negative performance, but very positive. If we keep playing like that, we will be very difficult to handle. As we know in the league, we have to be good at home. And I feel we are good at home."
With the tie, the Quakes improved their home record at Buck Shaw Stadium to 6-0-3 on the season.
The Quakes next MLS game is on August 11, when they face Seattle Sounders back at the Buck Shaw Stadium.