After battling for 90 minutes against FC Dallas on a cool evening in Frisco, Texas, the San Jose Earthquakes capitulated in stoppage time when Blas Perez redirected a deflected shot and scored into an empty net to give the Hoops a 1-0 victory in the MLS regular season opener for both teams.
A mistake by new starting goalkeeper David Bingham paved the way for Dallas to win the game, as his ill-fated attempt to punch away an entry pass at the top of the penalty area ceded too much space behind him, and Perez, with a little luck on his side, took full advantage to secure all three points at Toyota Stadium.
"Sometimes it's a game of mistakes," said head coach Dominic Kinnear. "They made a couple. We made a couple. I thought the guys put in a great night's work, created some good chances. So did they. It's a little bit unfair at the end, but that's the way the game went."
Bingham, who has been entrusted with the starting duties in goal since veteran goalkeeper Jon Busch was let go in the offseason, recognized that he still has a way to go to fill the shoes of the team's former #1 and command the attention of his defense.
"It's a learning curve," said Bingham. "It's a little bit of communication, probably more on my part. He (Victor Bernardez) didn't hear me coming. He didn't know there was no one around. So, he went to clear it and I was coming out and we had a little mix up and then the guy duffs a shot wide and Perez was there to put it back in."
Kinnear sent out the same Starting XI against Dallas that he employed against the LA Galaxy last Saturday in the Earthquakes preseason finale. The continuity paid off, as it was San Jose that started the match in Frisco the better team.
The Earthquakes started the game as the aggressor, continually pressuring FC Dallas in the midfield and attempting quick transitions into the attacking third in the opening 10 minutes. An 8th minute shot from Matias Perez Garcia tested goalkeeper Chris Seitz, as did a blistering effort from Chris Wondolowski two minutes later.
However, the hosts weathered the spell, and in the next stanza threatened multiple times to collect the game's first goal. Twice in three minutes athletic efforts from Bingham were required to keep Dallas off the scoreboard, and in the 22nd minute it was defensive heroics from center back Paulo Renato that saved the day.
Following a pressing run from Fabian Castillo on the right side of the area, the Dallas designated player sent a pass over the Earthquakes defenders and to the feet of Perez. With only Bingham to beat, the Panamanian striker curls a ball past the goalkeeper that looked destined to hit the net. Instead, Renato, racing back into position behind his ‘keeper, acrobatically deflected the shot off the goal line and back into the thankful arms of Bingham.
The game slowed down in subsequent minutes, as the Earthquakes formation contracted even more into the central vertical third of the field. The freedom afforded Dallas on the sidelines enticed the home side to attack from wide positions, but that also played into San Jose's favor as they attempted to use the speed of Shea Salinas and Sanna Nyassi on the wings to push back into the Dallas half following turnovers in possession.
The start of the second half presented San Jose with another promising opportunity to strike first, but a Wondolowski shot attempt at the upper corner from the edge of the area curled tantalizingly wide. In the 50th minute, a darting run from Salinas along the left side required former Earthquakes midfielder Atiba Harris to chop down his former teammate, earning the Dallas defender the game's first yellow card.
Still scoreless into the 60th minute, Kinnear made his first substitution, sending in the Quakes leading scorer in the preseason, third year forward Adam Jahn for JJ Koval. The move allowed Perez Garcia to drop more into a central midfield role and Wondolowski to slide into a supporting forward position.
Shaun Francis earned a yellow card for a tactical foul in the 67th minute as he pulled down Castillo on a Dallas counterattack. The match was mired in a series of quick transitions as both sides couldn't settle into possession, and the Francis caution was exactly enough the home side from gaining an advantage.
The Earthquakes were dreadful over the last 20 minutes of matches in 2014, so their first match of 2015 was a good chance to correct course. But as the game continued along in a scoreless tie, the Quakes seemed content to adopt a more conservative stance. In the 81st minute, Kinnear swapped out attacking midfielder Perez Garcia for rookie defensive midfielder Fatai Alashe. And in the 82nd minute, it was Wondolowski making a key defensive play to prevent a wide-open FC Dallas shot on goal.
Tesho Akindele nearly put the home side ahead in the 84th minute when the second-year forward redirected a shot on target from inside the six yard box that Bingham was fortunate enough to bat down and smother.
Earthquakes designated player Innocent Emeghara made his MLS debut in the 89th minute, replacing Salinas as Kinnear made one more attempt to steal all three points in play in Frisco.
However, FC Dallas found the goal it craved in stoppage time, as an aggressive attempt by Bingham, well off his line, created enough space for Perez to deflect an entry ball on target and into the net for the game winning goal.
It was the first mistake by San Jose in what was a hard fought match, but that one momentary lapse of judgment by the new number one Quakes goalkeeper proved the difference, and Dallas collected all three points on offer.
The Earthquakes will next play on Saturday, March 14, at Seattle against the defending Supporters' Shield holders Sounders. San Jose is now winless in 16 straight MLS regular season games stretching back to last August.
San Jose Earthquakes 0 -- FC Dallas 1
March 7, 2015 -- Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX
Scoring Summary: SJ -- None; DAL -- Blas Perez (Moises Hernandez) 90+2.
Misconduct Summary: SJ -- Shaun Francis (caution) 67, Shea Salinas (caution) 77, Sanna Nyassi (caution) 90+2, Adam Jahn (caution) 90+4; DAL -- Atiba Harris (caution) 50.
San Jose Earthquakes: David Bingham, Marvell Wynne, Victor Bernardez, Paulo Renato, Shaun Francis, Sanna Nyassi, Matias Perez Garcia (Fatai Alashe 81), Shea Salinas (Innocent Emeghara 89), JJ Koval (Adam Jahn 60), Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi, Chris Wondolowski.
FC Dallas: Chris Seitz, Atiba Harris (Walker Zimmerman 89), Moises Hernandez, Zach Lloyd, Tesho Akindele, Mauro Diaz (Michel 86), Fabian Castillo, Victor Ulloa, Ryan Hollingshead (Michael Barrios 75), Blas Perez.