It could have been a gut-punch for the San Jose Earthquakes, who in regular time had fought back valiantly from a one-goal deficit to equalize against Orlando City SC on the road, as the Lions scored a stunning stoppage time goal to take a 2-1 lead.
But these Quakes were not ready to give up, and with the added time to stoppage time for celebrating the goal putting another minute on the clock, Shea Salinas poked home a stunning goal in the 94th minute to silence the big Camping World Stadium crowd that was already counting an apparent victory.
The goal helped San Jose avoid another fruitless road trip, and the point earned keeps the Earthquakes in a four-way tie for fourth place in the Western Conference, level with the LA Galaxy, their opponent next Saturday in the California Clasico at Stanford Stadium. The Quakes are one of only five MLS teams that have yet to record a road victory, collecting a 0-4-4 record in the first eight of 17 regular season away games, but they've managed to stay above the red line and in playoff positions despite such woes.
The Earthquakes welcomed back Panama duo Alberto Quintero and Anibal Godoy following their nation's disappointing showing in the Copa America Centenario. Simon Dawkins, who missed the tournament with an injury suffered while training with Jamaica also started for San Jose, joining fellow designated player Matias Perez Garcia in the starting line-up.
Chris Wondolowski, who is the team's leading scorer, missed the game as the USA continued its Copa run with a 2-1 quarterfinal victory over Ecuador. Wondolowski will also miss this weekend's Cali Clasico at Stanford as the Yanks are guaranteed to play on either Saturday or Sunday in the Copa America final or third-place game.
Orlando took the lead in 66th minute when Seb Hines headed home from a corner kick delivered by Adrian Winter. It took the wind out of the Quakes sails at that point, especially given the resolute defending they had shown to that point in the match.
The Earthquakes equalized in the 85th minute when Salinas drove a cross into the area that Chad Barrett headed home past goalkeeper Joe Bendik. It looked all the world as if the Quakes had earned a point, but then Orlando answered back.
In the first minute of three announced minutes, Julio Baptiste drilled a low shot that David Bingham tried to claw away from the target, but his effort was too powerful, and the Quakes' 'keeper could not deny the Brazilian legend. It would have been easy for the Earthquakes to give up then, but they didn't.
"We fought like dogs to get something out of this game and we could have packed it up after 2-1," said Barrett, "but you know we didn't do it."
As the game stretched past the announced three minutes of stoppage time, it seemed inevitable that the referee would blow the game over. But he didn't, and the Quakes kept pushing forward, looking for any opening in the Orlando defense. They found it just seconds before the stroke of the 95th minute.
After a clearance from Orlando was lumped back near the center line, the Quakes dumped the ball back into the attacking third, where Salinas turned toward the area. He dished to Quincy Amarikwa, but the ball bounced awkwardly away. Fortunately, it landed back at the feet of Salinas, and he poked it home from 15 yards to secure a valuable road point for San Jose.
The crowd, which was already feeling the grief of the tragic shooting in Orlando the weekend before and had paid respects to the 49 victims with a touching moment of silence earlier in the game, was stunned at the turn of events. But the Earthquakes desperately needed a result, and they made no apologies for the late-game equalizer.
"I think the most important thing was to get the draw," said head coach Dominic Kinnear. "If we walk out of here 2-1 down, losing on that goal, I think that was in the 92nd minute, so to get that tying goal, you walk off the field exhausted, but satisfied. Thank you everybody and good luck to the people of Orlando."