For the San Jose this game was finally about one thing and one thing only - winning. The Earthquakes starting line-up looked pretty good on paper, the question was would it prove good on the field.
San Jose were missing defensive pillar Bernardez and midfield pivot Pelosi both suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
For Sporting Kansas City a win or a tie would see them qualify for a playoff spot but surely there had to be a thought or two in the locker room about avenging that 5-0 loss at Sporting Park earlier in the year.
The final score of 1-0 to San Jose means that a win on the road in Dallas next week, given other Western Conference rival losses, could secure San Jose a playoff spot. The playoff situation in the West is tighter than a 1980s Dutch defense.
Sporting Kansas City came out of the gate and immediately established a high line with Palmer-Brown heading just over the bar as early as the 3rd minute. Quakes striker Wondolowski was pulling some central defense duty that was certainly not where his head coach would ideally like to have seen him.
But by the 8th minutes it became clear this was already an open game. Cato found his way down the wing twice in quick succession to feed two shots on goal, one from Salinas and the other from Garcia, both comfortably saved by Kansas keeper Melia. A minute later down the other end San Jose GK Bingham had to make himself big to deny Dwyer in a one-on-one break.
Was this really going to be a game where both teams went for it and the ball didn’t spend most of its time mired in midfield? Yes, it was.
On 20 minutes a superbly won and passed ball from Garcia found Amarikwa who volleyed just over the bar. San Jose were fighting for every ball, but still their play out of defense was all too often only finding its way to the Kansas City midfield.
By the 30th minute Kansas’s midfield were showing a greater deal of control than San Jose but having said that, Garcia was playing like a man possessed, often single handedly dragging the Quakes upfield.
On 34 minutes Salinas found space following a series of tight passes and took a good poke at goal that Melia saved. But in the next move, on an indirect free kick inside the SKC area the Quakes executed the perfect wasted opportunity set piece. From magic to the worst of typical MLS all in the space of a few breaths.
In the last 10 minutes of the half the game degenerated from enthusiastic, passionate play to a somewhat out of control display of kicking and galloping. The half ended 0-0.
The second half got off to a flying start for San Jose when, after a great piece of passing play between Salinas, Wondolowski and Godoy that disemboweled the Kansas defense, Godoy put the ball into the net. Mayhem ensued and it was 1-0 to the Earthquakes.
On 55th minute Amarikwa broke with the ball and after executing a great trick turn found himself one-on-one with Melia but fired high. Four minutes later Wondolowski found himself in an almost identical position, executed a very similar 180 turn but fired straight at Melia. It could have, and some would say, should have been 3-0. Would the Quakes come to rue those missed opportunities?
On 62 minutes Amarikwa had the ball in the net from a Wondolowski shot on goal but was flagged offside. In the 67th minute Gody was booked which means he’ll miss the next Quakes game. In 70th minute Lopez got his head to a great ball in but headed fractionally over the bar. In the 72nd minute Garcia had a shot saved by Melia who was single handedly keeping the score below the 5-2 to the Quakes it could easily have been.
The 73rd minute saw a Feilhaber shot from a set piece fly so high over the bar it hit the Ultras banner above the time clock. On 76 minutes Garcia was subbed off to thunderous applause and Nyassi came on.
On 83 minutes SKC’s Dwyer did some jersey pulling followed by a scything tackle from behind on Wynne that could have been designed specifically to illustrate when to issue a red card, but that saw only a yellow from this inconsistent referee.
In the 85th minute we had a small real earthquake!
Amarikwa came off on 89 minutes for Jahn and the 4th official indicated 4 minutes of time added on. The game ended with a San Jose Earthquakes win 1-0.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES HEAD COACH DOMINIC KINNEAR
On Garcia's performance.
"I thought everyone played good tonight. I think we had enough chances to maybe add to the lead. I thought Matais was good tonight, good in tight spaces. When you do play the ball to his feet he's not going to waste it. I thought he was very sharp tonight."
On Shaun Francis.
"He had a real good preseason but obvioulsy the injury kind of set him off a little bit. And then when he came back he was a touch up and down. Wth Jordan (Stewart) going down it kind of makes the position absolutely his. And I thought that tonight was probably his best game for us this year."