On the heels of perhaps its best performance of the season in 5-0 victory against second place Real Salt Lake on Saturday, San Jose Earthquakes were a heavy favorite against eight place FC Dallas. While they did win the close 2-1 contest with the goals from Marvin Chavez and Alan Gordon, the game could have ended otherwise.
It could have ended with a confident score of 3-0 when Quakes were awarded a penalty mid-way through the second half as they were leading the game 2-0. Chris Wondolowski came to the spot, hit it into the top right corner and began celebrating when the referee disallowed and asked him to take it again.
"They said it was encroachment, that somebody was in the box on both teams and that we had to retake it," said Wondolowski after the game.
Wondo took it again and went the same side, but this time put the ball to the right, but low too close to the middle, allowing Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman to make a save. The score remained 2-0 in favor of San Jose.
It could also have ended as a tie. With the game time expiring, heavy playing schedule must have began to catch up with the Quakes and all they could do in the last five minutes of the game was to stay behind and try to clear the ball. That almost cost them two points.
The Quakes were losing the battles in the air and to the ball, but Jon Busch helped clear the ball in his end of the field. With just one minute remaining before the stoppage time, they could do nothing to stop Hernan Pertuz from scoring for Dallas from a close range to make the game 2-1.
Dallas comeback almost happened when just a minute later they were awarded a penalty kick after Simon Dawkins took down their player inside the box. Jair Benitez came up to take it, and with game on the line, he sent the ball to the left, but too high. To the relief of the home crowd of 9,841, the game remained 2-1 in the Quakes favor and they survived its final moments.
As for how the game developed, it was FC Dallas that dominated the first half of the game. They started well and were outrunning the Quakes in their zone, generating two good scoring chances off the corners just eight minutes in.
Dallas continued to push the ball, and generate danger in the Quakes box with each attack and every corner kick (they had eight of them in the first half of the game). But it was the Quakes who scored the first goal on 12th minute of the game. Marvin Chavez got one in with his right foot and a low shot into the right corner.
San Jose scored again with the time expiring in the first half. Sam Cronin had the ball on the right wing and noticed Alan Gordon in a good position inside the box. Not wasting any time, he sent the cross into the box for Gordon, who put it into the net with a header to score his eighth goal of the season.
"I raised my hand and made it a strong run to the back post, and [Cronin] put it right where he wanted it," said Gordon. "It was amazing, amazing cross from Sammy, who put the ball right into my head. I just got up and put it on target and I was fortunate enough it did go in."
The ending to this game was one of the strangest this season, as this time the Quakes did not need a come back to earn the three points, but still needed late game luck to preserve them.
"I thought Dallas played really well tonight, to be honest," said Quakes head coach Frank Yellop. "If they would have equalized at the end with the penalty kick, you got to say they deserved at least a draw."
But this is how it often goes in the sports - no big accomplishments happen without luck, and it's not always the better team on the field who gets the three points.
San Jose Earthquakes are back in action on Sunday when they face Vancouver Whitecaps FC in Canada.