Quakes ride Rapids to tepid draw

SANTA CLARA — For the second time in 19 days, the San Jose Earthquakes and Colorado Rapids played to a 0-0 draw.

Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay

In a display only slightly less stale than their meeting in Colorado, San Jose held the edge in possession and chances but failed to deliver the quality finish that has eluded them for much of the season.

Chris Wondolowski nearly scored the game winner in the 88th minute when his strike deflected off Colorado goalkeeper Clinton Irwin and banged the outside of the right post.

Wondo was visibly frustrated after the match when asked if he took any positives away from another draw at home:

“To be honest I don’t. We are almost a fourth of the way into the season we gotta stop having little stepping stones … It’s not pre-season anymore. It’s not the first game of the season anymore. …We gotta stop looking for the silver linings and start producing.”

On the other hand, Coach Mark Watson thought his side deserved more than a point:

“We forced the game and I thought we moved the ball better tonight and I thought it was a good performance. We had a lot of good chances and are unfortunate not to win the game.”

San Jose (1-3-4, 7 pts.) had a tough time once again facing Irwin. The Colorado keeper made seven saves Wednesday night and has put together 180 consecutive scoreless minutes against the Quakes this season. Said Wondo about the keeper:

“He’s a great goalkeeper. …He made off the top of my head three great saves.”

The back line was the strength for San Jose, grabbing their third clean sheet of 2014 despite making two changes. Ty Harden replaced Clarence Goodson at center-back, with the American International sitting out as a late scratch with a shin contusion. Harden has only featured twice this season, both against Colorado, both clean sheets.

Shea Salinas challenged Irwin in the 22nd minute for the game’s first shot on target. The winger has done most of his damage crossing from the wing this season, with his four assists tied for the league lead.

This time, Salinas cut inside his defender and blasted a point blank shot at the surprised Irwin, who scrambled to deflect the ball to safety.

Irwin was scrambling again in the 37th, when the young goalkeeper spilled a low, 30-yard free kick strike from Khari Stephenson, who was making his first start this season. The ball was loose for a moment in front of goal but San Jose could not capitalize.

Andres Gorlitz made his return to the squad Tuesday but suffered a serious and potentially season-ending knee injury according to Watson,  after crumpling to the ground at the end of halftime and staying down for over five minutes. Gorlitz could be seen in crutches in the Quakes locker room.

The midweek fixture and poor performance in Vancouver led San Jose to make five changes to the squad. Colorado, coming off a big win against LA Galaxy, rotated their squad completely, with only two outfield players remaining in the starting XI.

Alan Gordon soiled a clear chance early in the second half. Another nifty pass from Salinas put Gordon in front of goal with only the keeper to beat. The big striker scuffed his right-footed strike wide of the far post to the chagrin of the 9,388 Buck Shaw faithful.

Quakes’ keeper Jon Busch came up with two big saves shortly after. First on a diving near post stop from a Chris Klute strike and then with a courageous punch on the ensuing corner.

The Earthquakes put the pressure on in the second half, and looked most likely to score.

San Jose squandered a great chance in the 62nd minute, when a deflected ball landed at the feet of Attiba Harris, who hit a laser right at Irwin. The Colorado keeper did well just to punch the ball into the air and away from danger.

The Earthquakes return to action Saturday evening at Buck Shaw facing third place FC Dallas (5-4-1, 16 pts.). The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m.on CSNBA.


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