Slow start dooms Quakes in Philadelphia

Andrew Wenger scored the first and last of a six-goal thriller in Philadelphia, helping the Union top the San Jose Earthquakes 4-2 at PPL Park.

Wenger fired a right-footed shot into Jon Busch’s near post in the 72nd minute, scoring his second counterattacking goal of the game, and his 5th of 2014.

The score gave Philadelphia their second two-goal cushion of the game, after busting out to a 2-0 lead early in the first half.

Both goals of Wenger’s goals came following poor San Jose set pieces that left Earthquakes defenders at the wrong end of the pitch and unable to stop the quick-strike ability of the Union attack.

Wenger’s brace completed a breakneck sequence that saw three goals in nine minutes.

Sheanon Williams’ goal in the 72nd minute gave the hosts a 3-2 lead shortly after squandering it, with a glancing header at Earthquakes keeper Jon Busch’s near post.

The Union left-back was marked well by Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi , but got inside position for the flick-on despite being pulled to the ground.

The goal came just minutes after Chris Wondolowski equalized for the Earthquakes in the 70th, tapping in a terrific cross from Shea Salinas at the far post. The goal for the Quakes all-time leading scorer was his 10th of the season and second in as many games.

Wondo talked about the bittersweet turn of events:

“We have given up way too many chances recently and it shows with all the goals we have allowed. The guys worked hard all night, but we can’t give up a goal right after we score the equalizer. It was a frustrating night.”

Coach Mark Watson echoed those sentiments:

“We showed great fight and character to get back in the game. I was proud of that effort and that we didn’t give up, but we need to be sharper when it counts. We need points right now and tonight we weren’t good enough in the end.”

San Jose fulfilled their reputation as slow starters, when Wenger put the hosts ahead just 10 minutes in. Sebastian Le Toux set up Wenger with a low squared ball into the box, and the winger repaid the favor by blasting it into the corner of Jon Busch’s far post.

Le Toux would be rewarded himself just minutes later, when an attempted headed clearance by Victor Bernardez fell to the Frenchman’s feet for an easy goal, his team-leading 11th of 2014.

Fourteen minutes in, San Jose found itself down 2-0, and one couldn’t help be reminded of the atrocious showing against Dallas just two weeks ago. The four goals conceded is the second most the Quakes have given up this season, behind the aforementioned five goal disaster. 

The defense has been a strength for most of the season, but Busch is disappointed with the holes that have opened up recently:

“We have given up way too many chances recently and it shows with all the goals we have allowed. The guys worked hard all night, but we can’t give up a goal right after we score the equalizer. It was a frustrating night.”

Philadelphia looked sure to put the game out of reach in the 57th minute on an unmarked Connor Casey header, but Jon Busch thwarted the attempt with his best reaction save of the season. The 38-year-old somehow kept his body in front of the point-blank effort to keep San Jose in the game.

Busch’s heroic save opened the door for a goal nearly as spectacular when Sam Cronin blasted a 25-yard volley into the corner of the Philadelphia net.

It was Cronin’s first goal of the season third goal in 126 appearances for the Quakes since 201o.

San Jose remains in eighth place in the Western Conference. The Quakes trail Vancouver by eight points for the fifth and final playoff spot with 11 games remaining. 

Busch said looking ahead is not an option:

“We can’t even look at the standings right now. We just need to focus on playing better and sorting out our mistakes. That starts with next week. We have a big game at home and need to get focused in training and be ready to go against RSL.”

The win puts Philadelphia only a point behind the New York Red Bulls for the final playoff spot in the East.


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