Sometimes a draw feels like a win and sometimes a draw feels like a loss. For the San Jose Earthquakes, last week’s uplifting 1-1 result against the Portland Timbers and Saturday night’s frustrating 2-2 effort at Chivas USA have seen the team experience both ends of the emotional spectrum.
Goals from Chris Wondolowski and Cordell Cato sandwiched Chivas efforts from Mario de Luna and Tristan Bowen in a match that featured 90+ minutes of end to end play. San Jose dominated possession throughout, except for a costly 10 minute stretch to open the second half when the Goats tallied their two goals.
“Obviously conceding two goals is never good,” said head coach Frank Yallop. “We had enough chances to win this game tonight. It was a frustrating night and I'm disappointed for the guys. They put the effort in to get the three points and we could not quite do it. We played well but we have to do better on the goals.”
The Earthquakes outshot Chivas by a 3-to-1 margin, and if not for a heroic effort from Goats goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and his defensive line, the visitors would have walked off the Home Depot Center pitch with their first road victory of the season. That San Jose instead returns to Northern California with a lone point was especially annoying to man-of-the-match Shea Salinas.
“We came here to get three points,” said Salinas to the CSN Bay Area broadcasting team after the final whistle. “We know we needed three points to move up in the table, so we are a little disappointed to leave with only one.”
Salinas provided assists on both of the Quakes goals and throughout the night was the most dangerous player on the pitch. Given the propensity of Chivas USA to play more centrally and leave vacant the wings suited the outside midfielder’s game to a tee.
“The goal was just to get the ball wide and get the ball into the box,” continued Salinas. “We were effective at doing that. I wish we would have scored three goals instead of just two.”
The Earthquakes earned 15 corner kicks on the night, but could not muster a single credible shot on target from the attempts. The Quakes did collect their first goal from a set piece this season on Wondolowski’s goal from Salinas’ 40th minute free kick, but San Jose did more than enough to earn the full three points on offer. Instead, the draw left the Earthquakes one point behind Chivas USA for the fifth spot in the Western Conference standings.
“I have never been that frustrated with us not putting a game away,” said Yallop. “We could have gotten five or six goals to be honest. There were really good looks and we had some really good chances.”
The game started brightly for San Jose, as from the opening whistle the visitors pinned Chivas in their own half and looked dangerous in possession. With his return from injury complete, Marvin Chavez made his first start of the year, following last weekend’s debut as a substitute. The speedy Honduran had as his complement on the opposite wing, Salinas. Together, the two midfielders were the main reason that the Earthquakes of 2012 were able to get off to such a strong start to the season.
“I don’t really have a preference, left or right,” said Salinas. “I think I have a few more options when I play on the left; I can cut inside a little better and I can still go wide and cross the ball. I like playing on the left, but I don’t mind playing on the right either.”
Chavez showed his worth with a well timed interception in the 35th minute that led to an Earthquakes fast break. The winger pressed the ball ahead to Steven Lenhart and ran the central channel, but the forward elected to hold on for Wondolowski to enter the play. Looking to release a quick shot, Wondo turned toward goal, but his effort was deflected wide for a corner kick.
The Earthquakes finally broke through the resolute Chivas defense in the 40th minute from a free kick earned by the hard work of Lenhart. With players from both sides jockeying for position in the area, Wondolowski snuck around the outside of his marker and tapped in the delivery from Salinas. Goats goalkeeper Kennedy protested vehemently that Wondo was offside on the kick, but referee Mark Geiger refused to entertain the appeal.
San Jose dominated every offensive statistic through the first half, but had only a single goal for their efforts. That lack of converting scoring opportunities would come back to bite the Earthquakes after the interval.
With a renewed energy that was missing in the first 45 minutes, Chivas USA stormed out of the gate to start the second half. Less than two minutes after the restart, winger Jorge Villafana collected a ball down the left side and drove toward the endline. His cross into the six yard box was punched away from danger by goalkeeper Jon Busch, but the loose ball deflected off the onrushing de Luna and over the goal line for the equalizer.
Four minutes late, Villafana was at it again, as from an almost identical position on the left winger, the Chivas USA speedster delivered a dangerous cross into the area. With Earthquakes defenders reaching for the pass, forward Bowen entered the fray and slammed home a left footed effort to give the home side a 2-1 lead.
A furious rally from San Jose over the next ten minutes produced numerous scoring chances but failed to earn a tying effort. In the 58th minute, Salinas collected a pass inside the area and fired past Kennedy, but defender Joaquin Velazquez slowed the shot enough for de Luna to clear the ball just as it appeared certain to cross the goal line. Less than a minute later, a contested ball in the area looked on target, but Wondolowski was called offside on the play.
With Chavez spent and Lenhart nearing his boiling over point, the Earthquakes substituted in Cato and Adam Jahn to elevate the tempo of the match. Within a minute of entering, Jahn almost proved the hero for the second straight match. Off a throw-in in the 72nd minute, Salinas carried the ball into the area before cutting a pass back for the rookie forward to one-touch on target. The shot eluded Kennedy, but a sliding Carlos Borja was able to deflect the ball to safety. The play highlighted just what a field day Salinas was having on the expanse Home Depot Center pitch, as he seemed to cover nearly a marathon’s worth of running during the game.
“It’s a whole lot of running but it’s fun just running up and down the lanes,” said Salinas. “I like to say that I’m a really good runner and an OK soccer player, so track-meet games like that are fun for me. I’m just a little disappointed we didn’t get a few more goals.”
Whereas Jahn was unable to bring the Earthquakes back into the match, Cato took full advantage of his opportunity to get on the scoresheet. In the 76th minute, Salinas was again the Earthquakes offensive initiator as he broke in behind the Chivas backline with room to get off a cross. Cato ran into the area with Goats defender Borja matching him stride for stride, and reached the ball first to poke it into the back of the net and level the score. The goal was the first of Cato’s MLS career.
“I was sprinting just to try and get in the play and luckily Shea played a great ball in to me at the near post,” said Cato. “It was a long time coming. I’ve had a lot of near misses and to finally break through and help the team pick up a point was great.”
The visitors, with momentum on their side, continued to press forward looking to score a winner. A long ball from Justin Morrow over the Chivas defense found Wondolowski with plenty of space to operate in the 84th minute, and the forward held possession as he waited for teammates to enter the play. A nutmeg pass through a Chivas defender and toward the penalty spot found Jahn racing in on target, but his sliding effort was snuffed out by Kennedy.
For the remainder of regulation and through 4 minutes of stoppage time, the Earthquakes threw everything they had at Chivas USA, but Kennedy and his defense stood strong. Despite being the better team on the night, San Jose was only able to collect a single point.
The Earthquakes return to action on Saturday in a 1:00 p.m. matinee against the Montreal Impact at Buck Shaw Stadium.