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Scoreless in Frisco: San Jose Earthquakes squander chances but earn road point at FC Dallas

The San Jose Earthquakes survived an off-night on offense and a red card ejection to captain Ramiro Corrales late in the second half to earn a point at FC Dallas with a 0-0 draw. Both teams had limited scoring opportunities, but it was the defenses that came up strong in the match.

“Obviously getting the clean sheet was important,” said Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop. “I’m a little bit disappointed that we didn’t finish the chances we created. But, I’m pleased that we did defend well in the end, especially with 10 men, so it was a good.”

Chris Wondolowski had the best scoring chances for the Earthquakes, with a first half shot cleared off the goal line by Dallas defender Hernan Pertuz and a second half shot corralled by a grateful ‘keeper Kevin Hartman. But the MLS Golden Boot leader could not add to his 14 season goals and was kept off the score sheet for the second straight game.

“I have to do a little better job of finishing it off,” said Wondolowski. “The first one I thought I just had to get it past Kevin (Hartman) and I thought it would be in. The defender did a really good job coming back and clearing it. I don’t think you can get much closer for it to go in.”

Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball, Jason Hernandez made the play of the game saving a goal off an attempt by midfielder Fabian Castillo midway through the first half. The Earthquakes defense was able to fend off the few Dallas chances on the night and together with goalkeeper Jon Busch earned their first clean sheet since a 1-0 road win at Seattle on March 31. Instrumental in aiding the defensive effort against Dallas was defensive midfielder Sam Cronin.

“Yeah, that was our priority number one coming into this game,” said Cronin. “We were disappointed we haven’t gotten more shutouts recently, so we were happy to keep the zero today.”

The red card issued to Corrales came in the 80th minute following a second successive questionable tackle on an FC Dallas opponent. The Earthquakes defense remained resolute over the last ten minutes plus stoppage time to help earn the visitors a share of the spoils in their first meeting of 2012 season.

A Midwest heat wave that had seen temperatures in Texas break the 100 degree mark all week finally waned Saturday afternoon, and the on-field thermometer read a balmy 86 degrees at kick-off. Both teams seemed content to bat the ball around in the opening 30 minutes of the game, with the Earthquakes gaining a slight edge in possession but unable to muster too much in the way of creativity in the attacking third.

Attacking midfielder Rafael Baca earned a yellow card in the 21st minute for a tough tackle on Dallas playmaker David Ferreira, but that did little to slow down the 2010 MLS MVP. Ferreira, making his first start for FC Dallas since a brutal injury over a year ago forced him into a lengthy recovery, lacked sharpness on the ball, but did link up well with his preferred forward partner Brek Shea. Ferreira did his best to open up space for Shea, but the young U.S. international was unable to crack the Earthquakes defense.

Neither team registered a shot on goal until a half-hour into the match, when FC Dallas midfielder Castillo latched onto a spilled shot from goalkeeper Busch and fired at the target. In position to support his ‘keeper, defender Hernandez had Castillo’s shot deflect off his leg while he lay prone in the area. While the play will not likely earn Hernandez another MLS Save of the Week nomination, his positional awareness has been a key part of the team improving on the defensive side of the ball in the middle third of the season.

The Earthquakes had their best chance to open the scoring at the 36th minute mark of the first half when a long ball to Alan Gordon was redirected to Wondolowski on the left wing. The Earthquakes forward, nursing a sprained left foot, took advantage of space at the top of the Dallas area and turned defender Pertuz. With only the Dallas ‘keeper blocking his way, the MLS goal scoring leader sent a chipped shot over the onrushing Hartman and on target, but Pertuz recovered to just clear the ball off the line.

As the match approached half time, the Earthquakes again had a great opportunity to score. After some sustained possession, defender Steven Beitashour sent a ball down the right sideline for Marvin Chavez to collect deep in Dallas territory. Chavez did well to shake defender Carlos Rodriguez and carry the ball into the area where he elected to pull the ball back into the path of Beitashour. The right back’s one-touch shot was over hit, and the ball cleared Hartman’s crossbar.

On a corner kick in the 58th minute, Earthquakes captain Corrales met Chavez’s delivery near the far post and shot the ball past Hartman and toward the near post. Instead of registering his first goal of 2012, Corrales could only watch as Dallas defender Rodriguez deflected the bar to safety before it could cross the goal line. Twice the Earthquakes came close to opening the scoring, and twice the Dallas defense rescued the blushes of their ‘keeper.

The match appeared to turn in favor of the home side in the 80th minute after Corrales was shown his second yellow card, and he was ejected from the match. A yellow card in the 77th minute for a take-out tackle of Dallas second half substitute Ricardo Villar should have put the Earthquakes captain on notice, but another rash challenge less than three minutes later on Rodriguez hastened his exit. The Earthquakes brought in Khari Stephenson for Alan Gordon to beef up the midfield and settled into a more defensive formation to see out the game.

“I thought it (yellow card) was soft to be honest,” said Yallop. “You’ve got to make sure that it’s a yellow card. If it’s just a foul then you have to just play on. It could have cost us the game.

Despite being a man down, the Earthquakes almost struck for a goal on a breakaway in the 84th minute as second half substitute Shea Salinas carried the ball down the right side behind the Dallas defense. Just as Salinas was readying a square pass to Wondolowski in the center of the area, defender Matt Hedges got the slightest of touches to the ball and Hartman punched the ball away. Salinas had an opportunity to push the ball ahead to Wondolowski a touch prior, but the Earthquakes forward appeared to be in an advanced position and would likely have been called for an offside offense.

In the 87th minute, a clever long pass from Cronin found Wondolowski lurking 15 yards behind an advanced Dallas back line. Collecting the ball inside the Dallas half, the star forward carried the ball into the area, but was tracked well by Rodriguez, and sent a contested shot toward the far post. Hartman, doing enough to slow the shot as it nearly went between his legs, recovered to collect the ball before it could trickle over the goal line. The missed opportunity by Wondolowski was uncharacteristic based on his standards, and would prove to the last chance the Earthquakes would get to steal a road victory.

“Whether we’re a man down, goal down, tied, ninetieth minute, we’re still going to fight to the end,” said Wondolowski. “When you’re one-on-one with the goalkeeper it doesn’t matter if you’re down a man or up a man, you still need to finish it and I didn’t do that.”

The Earthquakes survived a late push by FC Dallas through 3 minutes of stoppage time and secured a scoreless draw. The result pushed their 2012 road record to 6-3-2 and their overall season points total to 37, good enough to retain first place by one point in the MLS Western Conference. The Earthquakes return to San Jose for their next match next Saturday against second place Real Salt Lake at Buck Shaw Stadium.

(Photo: Joe Nuxoll, centerlinesoccer.com)

San Jose Earthquakes (11-4-4, 37 pts.) at FC Dallas (3-9-7, 16 pts.)
July 7, 2012 — FC Dallas Stadium
Attendance: 10,132

Scoring Summary: None.

Misconduct Summary: SJ — Rafael Baca (caution) 21; SJ — Ramiro Corrales (caution) 77; SJ — Ramiro Corrales (ejection) 80.

San Jose Earthquakes — Jon Busch, Steven Beitashour, Victor Bernardez, Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow, Marvin Chavez (Shea Salinas 62), Sam Cronin, Rafael Baca, Ramiro Corrales, Chris Wondolowski, Alan Gordon (Khari Stephenson 83).

Statistics: Total Shots: 9; Shots on Goal: 3; Saves: 3; Fouls: 12; Offside: 4; Corner Kicks: 7.

FC Dallas Kevin Hartman, Zach Loyd, Hernan Pertuz, Matt Hedges, Carlos Rodriguez, James Marcelin, David Ferreira, Andrew Jacobson, Andrew Wiedeman (Jackson 46), Fabian Castillo (Ricardo Villar 46), Brek Shea.

Statistics: Total Shots: 14; Shots on Goal: 3; Saves: 3; Fouls: 10; Offsides: 2; Corner Kicks: 1.