Nicolas Loidero stuck a dagger into the hearts of fans in attendance at Avaya Stadium Saturday night, scoring a late goal in the 80th minute to bring the Sounders on level terms with San Jose in the 1-1 final.
Loidero's goal came courtesy of a free kick from about 30 yards out. Up until that moment, the contest had been dominated almost completely by the Quakes.
Head coach Dominic Kinnear, who's still seeking to find the medicine for his squads woes, opted to run a 4-4-1-1 formation against the Heritage Cup rival, a change from his usual 4-4-2. The result saw almost all of the offense run through the team's captain, Chris Wondolowski.
Wondolowski, fittingly, scored San Jose's only goal of the contest, his 10th of the season and first since July 31. The mark makes him the first player in MLS history to score at least 10 goals in seven straight seasons, and also increases his all-time scoring prowess against Seattle to 10 goals. No active MLS player has scored more against the Sounders.
The 33-year-old was happy to get off the schnide, but the goal wasn't enough, he said afterward.
"It was good to give the team the lead but it doesn't mean anything if you don't come out with a win," Wondolowski said.
Kinnear agreed with the sentiment, while he was happy to see his captain get back into the scoring column, it wasn't the result he was searching for. San Jose came out of the gates storming, dominating both possession and scoring chances during the first half.
"If we could play like those first 25 minutes for 90 minutes we'd be pretty special," Kinnear said. "We were really good in that first half but Seattle has good cleanup. Loidero got his touches and brought a lot more influence into the game."
The Quakes were keenly aware of the sense of urgency they needed to approach this game with — at kickoff, San Jose found themselves three points adrift of the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The awareness could be seen on the pitch during the first half performance Kinnear referenced — San Jose recorded seven total shots in the first half, three of which found their way to the target. On the other side of the pitch, San Jose's defense allowed only one shot to find its way toward goalkeeper David Bingham.
With the recent sacking of general manager John Doyle, this is where San Jose sit collectively: three draws and one loss in their past four home games.
"It hurts," Kinnear added. "The New England game at home I don't think we played particularly well but you look at New York, Houston and tonight, to walk off that field with only two points in three games is a big opportunity lost."
San Jose remain at the bottom of the table in the league in terms of goals scored, their fearless manager said the frustration is further irritating because his men are getting their fair share of chances.
"We're getting opportunities to create chances and we're either rushing or completely missing the target," Kinnear said. "We're getting ourselves in good positions on set pieces and our delivery is not wonderful so we're really hurting ourselves."
Jordan Stewart, who tallied an assist on Wondolowski's goal, relayed a similar opinion. They started exactly how they wanted, but the late goal served as a fairly deflating moment. However, he and the rest of his teammates are mindful of time remaining on the clock to extend their season.
"We started well and it was disappointing to not get the result," Stewart said. "To have them score a goal like that, it's more disappointing because they really didn't break us down. We have seven games left and it's coming to crunch time."