I wrote a very extensive match report on the San Jose Earthquakes 1-1 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps over at Center Line Soccer, but I wanted to follow up with a quick discussion on something that really bothered me after last night’s game. Namely, what was going on with head coach Frank Yallop’s time and player management over the last 20 minutes of the second half? It’s disappointing enough giving up the equalizing goal in stoppage time to lose 2 points on the night, but to do so when you have two additional substitutions available is a bitter pill to swallow.
With the Earthquakes protecting a one goal lead late in the game, and Vancouver making tactical changes to push forward in search of a goal, Yallop stayed on course with his formation and players. Only Khari Stephenson came in as a substitute, while Bobby Convey, Brandon McDonald, Chris Leitch, and Jason Hernandez — all players capable of playing defensively for a tiring Earthquakes team — could only watch from the bench as Steven Lenhart, Ryan Johnson, and others began to wane in energy as the clock would down. Perhaps a McDonald swap with Lenhart, or a Convey in for Johnson — preferably both changes — would have given the Quakes defense the needed resolve to keep the clean sheet through to the final whistle. Instead, a gassed Wondolowski was pressed into helping defender Ramiro Corrales late in the game mark Davide Chiumiento ahead of his game tying cross, er, goal seconds into stoppage time.
Good match management called out for the two additional substitutions be made in the waning minutes of the game, if not for tactical reasons, but as a way to disrupt the flow of the game. Call is time wasting if you want — and you must realize that the center referee will add those seconds lost to substitution movement to the already accumulated stoppage time — but you need to make those changes as a way for the rest of the players on the field to catch their breath and reorganize tactically to fend off their opponent’s last charge. Yallop did not take advantage of his bench at that critical time, and gone was the Earthquakes second win of the season.
The Earthquakes could have escaped Empire Field with all three points if not for a controversial foul call on defender Steven Beitashour in the 90th minute that allowed Vancouver to press forward in numbers on the resultant free kick set piece, and this whole discussion of time mismanagement would have been relegated to footnote status. However, that was not the case, and I think we need to discuss what Yallop could have done differently over the end of the game to allow his team the best chance to leave the field with the victory. I plan on covering this subject on the next episode of the Quakes Cast podcast, but would love to get your comments here at Quake, Rattle and Goal to help spur on the conversation.