The best team in MLS met the newest team in MLS as the San Jose Earthquakes faced off against the Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium Saturday evening. An early goal from Chris Wondolowski staked the visitors to the lead, but the Impact stormed back with three unanswered goals Marco Di Vaio, Denny Neagle, and Patrice Bernier to secure a 3-1 victory.
The loss was not enough to affect the Earthquakes place at the top of the Supporters’ Shield race, but it did come at a price as both Steven Lenhart and Jason Hernandez were ejected on straight red cards and will miss at least their next match. For Hernandez, who appeared to tweak his hamstring on the play that saw him sent off, the time away from the field may be even longer.
Never an easy place for opponents to play, Stade Saputo has developed into a fortress for the expansion Impact. The win over the Earthquakes, in front of a boisterous sellout crowd of 19,441 was their fifth in a row at home and improved their record to 7-2-0. The win also marked the Impact’s fourth in a row overall, and brought them level with DC United (who have 5 games in hand on Montreal) for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile, the Earthquakes dropped their sixth game of the season to take their record to 14-6-5 and push their winless streak on the road to 4 games. The loss to the Impact was San Jose’s third of the season to an Eastern Conference opponent, and the 3-1 result marked only their second loss in a game in which they held the lead. The two goal deficit also marked the Earthquakes worst loss of the season.
San Jose was the aggressor early on in the match, and held nearly a 2 to 1 advantage in possession over the first 20 minutes. Shot attempts by Lenhart and Wondolowski nearly put the visitors ahead, but they had difficulties connecting on shots on target.
The first goal of the game did not come without controversy, as a game-changing sequence of events commenced in the 19th minute. Following a clearance by the Impact defense on an Earthquakes cross into the area, Lenhart and Hassoun Camara got into a tussle as both players fought to reach the inbound pass. A stiff-arm to the chest and face of Camara by Lenhart met with a retaliatory karate chop to the shoulder of Lenhart.
The players jawed at each other as play was stopped by referee Armando Villarreal, and then both were ejected from the game with straight red cards. In addition to his decision to send off Lenhart and Camara, Villarreal also awarded the Earthquakes a penalty kick.
Wondolowski slotted home the penalty in the 23rd minute with a low kick to the left that easily eluded Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins. For Wondolowski, it was his 18th goal of the season — which matches his career high set in his Golden Boot winning season of 2010 and the all-time San Jose franchise record.
Montreal did not waste any time in finding an equalizer, as a cross field pass to Felipe Martins in the Earthquakes area sprung the midfielder just inside defender Justin Morrow. Felipe pushed toward the endline, and crossed the ball through the six-yard box for Di Vaio to stab it home at the far post to make the score 1-1.
With both teams a man down, the game became a bit more wide open. Montreal continued to defend with numbers, but slowly started to find space to create counterattacking opportunities.
In the 62nd minute, the Impact finally broke through a disjointed Earthquakes defense and took the lead in the match for good. With some skilled work on the ball at the top of the San Jose area, Bernier created enough space to lay the ball off to Neagle 20 yards from goal. The midfielder unleashed a right-footed blast that bulged the back of the net for the Impact’s second goal of the night.
The game went from bad to worse in the 71st minute, when a quick counterattack by Montreal started when Di Vaio collected the ball behind the Earthquakes defense and raced toward goal. Hernandez, the last defender on the play, was forced into fouling the Italian striker as he entered the area. Hernandez was shown an automatic red card for the foul and the Impact was awarded a penalty kick. Bernier converted from the spot to give the home side a 3-1 lead.
With the result no longer in doubt and being a man up on San Jose, Montreal played an effective game of keep-away for the remaining 20 minutes of the match. The match against Montreal marked the last inter-conference game for the Earthquakes in the 2012 regular season, and they saw their record against the East drop to a respectable 4-3-3.
Keep on reading for full match statistics and the postgame quotes from the Earthquakes locker room.
Post game statistics and quotes
San Jose Earthquakes (14-6-5, 47 pts.) vs. Montreal Impact (11-13-3, 36 pts.)
Aug. 18, 2012 – Saputo Stadium
Scoring Summary: SJ – Chris Wondolowski (penalty kick) 23; MON – Marco Di Vaio (Felipe Martins) 25; MON – Lamar Neagle (Patrice Bernier) 61; MON – Patrice Bernier (penalty kick) 72;
Misconduct Summary: MON – Hassoun Camara (ejection) 21; SJ – Steven Lenhart (ejection) 21; SJ – Steven Beitashour (caution) 54; SJ – Jason Hernandez (ejection) 71.
San Jose Earthquakes – Jon Busch, Steven Beitashour, Victor Bernardez, Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow, Marvin Chavez (Ike Opara 74), Sam Cronin, Rafael Baca (Khari Stephenson 74), Simon Dawkins, Chris Wondolowski, Steven Lenhart.
TOTAL SHOTS: 11; SHOTS ON GOAL: 3; SAVES: 4; FOULS: 8; OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 2.
Montreal Impact – Troy Perkins, Jeb Brovsky, Hassoun Camara, Matteo Ferrari, Dennis Iapichino, Davy Arnaud, Patrice Bernier, Collen Warner, Lamar Neagle (Karl Ouimette 88), Felipe Martins, Marco Di Vaio (Andrew Wenger 74).
TOTAL SHOTS: 17; SHOTS ON GOAL: 7; SAVES: 2; FOULS: 9; OFFSIDES: 4; CORNER KICKS: 4.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES HEAD COACH FRANK YALLOP
"We started out well and I felt good about the game. We looked good when it was 11v11 out there. We were moving the ball and creating some early chances, but the game changed when it was 10v10 and they handled the situation better. Hats off to Montreal, they played well and got a good result against us.”
On playing on the road:
“We got a lot of great results on the road early in the year which is not easy in this league. All the teams in the league are pretty equal so it is never easy to win away from home. Montreal played well tonight and took advantage of their chances and scored three goals. We took it on the chin a bit tonight, but we will regroup, and we are looking forward to Colorado at home next weekend.”
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES FORWARD CHRIS WONDOLOWSKI
On league-leading 18th goal:
“We have a dangerous team and they create a lot of chances for me to finish. Tonight, I got one from the penalty spot, which you should score every time. I was able to put it away but it didn’t mean anything in the end.”
“They did a good job tonight counterattacking us and creating dangerous situations from those counters. We had a lot of possession but we were missing the final pass. They made it tough on us and battled us from the first whistle. It was a difficult game so you have to give them credit.”
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES DEFENDER STEVEN BEITASHOUR
“We seemed to come out well, but it was tough losing Steven (Lenhart). Without him up top, Wondo (Chris Wondolowski) had it tough with three defenders around him. They took their chances when they had them and we couldn’t connect in the final third. The guys fought to the end though, even though we lost two players. We will just have to move on to next week.”