BUCK SHAW STADIUM — The San Jose Earthquakes saw their 21-game home unbeaten streak wash away Saturday night, losing to the New England Revolution 2-1 via a controversial stoppage time goal.
Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay
A right-footed strike by Lee Nguyen in the 93rd minute gave New England their first win of the season after a foul by Earthquakes defender Victor Bernardez led to a quick free kick that caught the San Jose back line napping.
Following the foul, returning New England striker Charlie Davies did not let the ball come to a stop before playing a square ball to Scott Caldwell, who one-timed a through ball to the streaking Nguyen.
Nguyen cut inside Earthquakes defender Clarence Goodson, beating the center-back and then the goal keeper, placing the game winning goal in the bottom left corner.
Typically the referee will require the ball to be reset before putting it back into play.
The Quakes’ late stumble came after they overcame a 1-0 deficit with a 69th-minute Chris Wondolowski equalizer.
San Jose Head Coach Mark Watson was understandably upset after the loss:
“I thought we were poor in the first half, but we came out in the second half and really took the game to them. We had all the momentum. I think the ball was rolling when the free kick was taken and I think some of our guys stopped which they shouldn’t have done. Then they caught us on the counter attack and won the game so it was very disappointing.”
Regarding the final goal, Goodson took responsibility for his defense:
“He (Nguyen) had a lot of field to cover. I think he did a good job. But I felt like I had to delay as much as possible because he could slip a ball through if I went out too quickly. He had a lot of time and space to make a decision … It was certainly a bad play from me.”
The ball skidded across the waterlogged pitch throughout the game, effecting both teams’ passing and drowning most hopes of the beautiful game at its most satisfying.
This was especially apparent in the first half, with neither team able to establish any sense of cohesion, sloppily attempting to move a ball that seemed uncontrollable.
Goodson was disgusted by the Earthquakes’ first half performance:
“The first half was an absolute disgrace. That was one of the worst first halves of soccer I’ve ever been involved in. One through 11 we were horrendous. It was an absolute disgrace. The second half got a little bit better but clearly not enough.”
The ugliness reached its apex in the 35th minute, after two mistimed slide tackles from Earthquakes’ defenders led to a San Jose own goal and a 1-0 New England lead.
Returning left-back Jordan Stewart’s attempt at a sliding clearance accidentally pushed the ball past approaching goalkeeper John Busch, leaving it rolling helplessly toward an empty goal.
Victor Bernardez hustled back for his own attempt at a sliding clearance, but slid too far, possibly due to pitch conditions, and instead put the ball in the back of the Revolution net.
A second own goal, this time on the opposite end of the pitch, nearly happened just six minutes later, when a right-footed Chris Wondolowski strike from the left side of the New England box deflected off the lower shoulder/upper arm of Revolution defender A.J. Soares.
The deflection forced a diving save from goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Appeals for handball resonated throughout the stadium and from San Jose players, but referee David Gantar didn’t budge.
The goal for New England was their first of the season and ended their scoring drought at 305 minutes, just 78 minutes shy of the MLS record set by Toronto FC in 2007.
San Jose entered the second half with a new sense of urgency, putting dangerous balls into the box, mostly via the right foot of crossing specialist Shea Salinas.
Recent US Men’s National Team call-up Clarence Goodson had two chances early in the second half to even the score. The Quakes center-back won two headers in the box off picture perfect Salinas crosses, but couldn’t connect properly, skying both over the crossbar in the 52nd and 54th minutes.
A through ball by Salinas in the 64th minute gave the Quakes their best chance to score with their feet, when Wondolowski beat his man down the left only to hit the ball into the side netting.
Wondo returned the favor minutes later, with a through ball to Salinas in a similar position. The talented winger cut inside but again could not hit the ball cleanly, overshooting the goal.
The Revolution would finally crack under the Earthquakes pressure when a Cordell Cato square ball into the box ricocheted off the back heel of a Revolution defender.
The ball found the sure-footed Wondolowski, who took a touch, and then calmly slotted the ball into the far post, equalizing the game at 1-1 in the 69th minute.
Hotly anticipated newcomer Portuguese winger Yannick Djalo made his debut in the 79th minute coming on for right-back Brandon Barklage.
Djalo immediately made his presence felt with his quick feet and speed down the right wing. Striker Steven Lenhart was subbed out just minutes before for Alan Gordon, suffering a left knee injury. Lenhart required assistance leaving the field.
Shortly before the Earthquakes conceded, Wondolowski nearly scored the winner for San Jose, striking a header in the box and just missing outside the right post. Shuttleworth wouldn’t have had a chance to save the shot had the star striker managed to hit the target.
The Earthquakes, still searching for their first win of the season, have a much needed week off after a busy start to the campaign. San Jose has played five games in all competitions in the last 19 days.
The Earthquakes (0-2-1) host the undefeated Columbus Crew (3-0-0) Sunday, Apr. 13 at noon at Buck Shaw Stadium.