Just when it seemed like San Jose Earthquakes Head Coach Mark Watson got his ideal lineup together, nagging injuries returned to shake things up a bit. In the absence of starters Yannick Djaló, Khari Stephenson, and Atiba Harris, the San Jose Earthquakes fell 1-0 to Toronto FC on a Jermain Defoe first half penalty kick. San Jose had a much stronger second half showing, but couldn't find the all important breakthrough. With the loss, the Quakes drop to 4-5-4 and 16 points, 8th in the West. Toronto improves to 6-4-1 for 19 points, holding onto 4th place in the East.
"I am disappointed that we came out so slowly in the first half," said Watson. "We didn't have the energy that I would have liked to start the game. It was nice to see the team respond in the second half. We put a lot more effort in after halftime and put them under pressure. We needed to be a bit more dangerous in the attack, but we had some decent chances late."
Stepping in for San Jose's injured starters were Alan Gordon for Djaló at forward, Sam Cronin for Stephenson in central midfield, and Cordell Cato for Harris on the wing. Toronto FC also had to make a couple of adjustments, with Michael Bradley away on International duty and striker Gilberto held out of the lineup due to injury concerns as well. Nevertheless, the Reds adapted much better to the lineup changes than the Quakes.
Toronto had much more possession early on, but it wasn't until the 15th minute that things really got going. The Reds earned a free kick near the area, which was taken by Defoe. His low shot looked to nick off of an Earthquakes' defender in the wall, and forced a good save from San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch. He spilled the shot before pouncing on the rebound amongst a few sliding players from both sides.
Ten minutes later Toronto would find the breakthrough. In the 24th minute, Toronto midfielder Jonathan Osorio crossed to right back Nick Hagglund who was joining the attack. Hagglund skillfully took a touch and then volleyed a shot at goal that Busch did well to parry away for a corner.
On the ensuing restart, the cross came towards Hagglund at the far post. Gordon, marking Hagglund, appeared to catch the defender with a high arm, and Hagglund sold the contact extremely well. The referee pointed to the spot, and Defoe stepped up to slot home the opener, sending Busch diving the wrong way.
The Quakes were able to get to the end of the first half with just the one goal deficit. "We were able to keep it close going into halftime," said Busch after the game. "That gave us a chance in the second half, but we just couldn't get a goal there. It was a good effort in the second half, but we have to be better overall."
The second half was indeed better for the Quakes, as the newer lineup seemed to gain a little chemistry. Midfielder Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi attempted to recreate his magic of the wonder strike a week ago in the 63rd minute, this time volleying from 35 yards out. His dipping shot, though, was controlled well by Toronto 'keeper Joe Bendik.
Toronto fired back with their best opportunity of the second half in the 67th minute. Collen Warner swung in a free kick that Hagglund flicked just wide of the far post. Hagglund, who drew the penalty and was an attacking threat all game, was the man of the match for me. Toronto's right back situation should be set for some time.
The Earthquakes best chance of the game would come in the 84th minute. On a somewhat broken play, Shea Salinas tracked down a poor free kick and volleyed the ball back into the box. Substitute JJ Koval latched onto the ball for a first-time shot that he pulled just wide. Bendik would have had no chance had the shot been on target.
There was no late Goonie magic this game, and the final score was 1-0. One positive for the Quakes was the debut of homegrown player Tommy Thompson, who was introduced in the 89th minute.
"It was a relief to get out there after fighting through my injury," said Thompson. "I am happy to be healthy and grateful for the opportunity to play in a great atmosphere like that. It would have been nice to get a win or tie but it was not our day."
Now, San Jose has a US Open Cup match against Sacramento Republic FC to look forward to before the World Cup break. The team's next MLS match will be at Stanford Stadium on June 28. For some, this break is falling at just the right time.
"We had two wins in a row and we have been on a good run of late," said Busch. "Today was a tough one for us, but you saw our effort in the second half. We have a good team here and we need to use these two weeks to get healthy and then be ready to come out with a lot of energy in that first match after the break."
During the break, expect all of the Quakes to be cheering on Chris Wondolowski as he and the rest of the United States Men's National Team go for the Cup in Brazil.
Toronto FC (6-4-1, 19 pts.) 1:0 San Jose Earthquakes (4-5-4, 16 pts.)
June 7, 2014 - BMO Field
Scoring Summary: TFC - Jermaine Defoe (penalty kick) 27.
Misconduct Summary: TFC - Doneil Henry (caution) 17; SJ - Sam Cronin (caution) 60; SJ - Clarence Goodson (caution) 66; TFC - Nick Hagglund (caution) 84; TFC - Jermaine Defoe (caution) 90+3.
San Jose Earthquakes: Jon Busch, Brandon Barklage, Ty Harden, Clarence Goodson, Jordan Stewart, Cordell Cato, Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi, Sam Cronin (JJ Koval 69), Shea Salinas (Tommy Thompson 89), Alan Gordon (Billy Schuler 70), Steven Lenhart.
SHOTS: 11; SHOTS ON GOAL: 2; SAVES: 3; FOULS: 16; CORNER KICKS: 4; OFFSIDES: 0.
Toronto FC - Joe Bendik, Mark Bloom, Doneil Henry, Steven Caldwell, Nick Hagglund, Jackson (Dominic Oduro 65), Luke Moore, Collen Warner, Jonathan Osorio, Kyle Bekker (Daneil Lovitz 78) (Justin Morrow 81), Jermain Defoe.
SHOTS: 14; SHOTS ON GOAL: 4; SAVES: 2; FOULS: 19; CORNER KICKS: 7; OFFSIDES: 3.