SANTA CLARA — The Quakes came from behind once again to salvage a 1-1 draw against Columbus Crew Sunday afternoon, yet remain winless in four games to start the season.
Photos by Scot Tucker
and Gabriella Gamboa/SFBay
Chris Wondolowski’s header in the 51st minute put San Jose (0-2-2) on equal terms after a first half goal from Crew (3-0-1) star Federico Higuain opened scoring just before the break.
The highlight of the match however was the performance of recent Earthquakes loanee Yannick Djalo, who entered as a second-half substitute and completely turned around a dismal first-half display from the home side.
Earthquakes Coach Mark Watson was impressed by the newcomer’s first full half:
“He gave us a spark. He’s got that little bit of quality that we need. He’s got pace to go past people, I think he was part of the bright start to the second half.”
Columbus Crew Coach Gregg Berhalter felt the same way:
“He was good. He certainly gave them a spark. He has good quickness, very good 1-v-1 player and I thought he made an impact for sure.”
Columbus talisman Federico Higuain was the lone bright spot in an otherwise dull first 25 minutes. The Argentinian attacker controlled the midfield, sometimes even tracking back into his own defense to get the ball.
Higuain often found himself with plenty of space to work with, taking advantage early with a strike from outside the box that forced a punch from San Jose keeper Jon Busch into a dangerous area in the 10th minute.
San Jose didn’t trouble the keeper until the 35th minute, when a tapped volley by winger Shea Salinas forced a diving stop from Columbus goalkeeper Steve Clark.
The chance capped off San Jose’s best move to that point and led to a spell of corners and attacking chances, including a low right footed strike from Chris Wondolowski in the 38th minute that forced another save.
The cream eventually rose to the top in the 44th minute, when Higuain put Columbus ahead with a left footed strike from the center of the box. The unmarked attacker first-timed a low cross from left-back Waylon Francis into the far post for his fourth goal of the young season.
After talking about the importance of not falling behind early following the loss to New England, the Quakes dug themselves a hole once again. Wondolowski expressed his disappointment with this growing trend:
“We gotta stop putting ourselves in a corner. Once we’re in a corner we’re gonna come out swinging that’s for sure, but we have to stop doing that. We gotta come out on the right foot and start better and see what it’s like to play with the lead.”
The Earthquakes remain winless to begin the season, and already find themselves 11 points behind Western Conference leader Dallas, though they do have two games in hand. Wondolowski still believes the season is far from over:
“We’re disappointed with where we are but we know the season isn’t gone yet. It’s a long season and we know that we can right the ship and we’re definitely going to do everything we can to fix it. We gotta stop talking about it and start doing it.”
San Jose came out in the second half a completely different team thanks in large part to halftime substitution Djalo. The Benfica loanee made his presence felt immediately, creating a chance for Wondo, and then beating Clark with a delicious chip that glanced off the far post.
Djalo’s energy had an effect on the entire San Jose attack, as the Quakes were granted four corners in the first six minutes of the half.
Quakes star Wondolowski broke through on the last of those corners, scoring on an equalizing header. Wondo, who impressed last week with a crucial goal for the U.S. Men’s National Team, continued his prolific form, thumping the header inside the left post, evening the score in the 51st minute.
Earthquakes right-back Brandon Barklage was forced to leave the match in the 53rd minute after suffering a leg injury. Coach Watson said the injury does not appear serious.
Djalo impressed again in the 78th, earning a loud ovation from the 10,525 Buck Shaw supporters, after flicking the ball over his defender in the penalty box setting up a scuffed chance.
Wearing the apropos No. 10, the Portugese winger was the best player on the pitch in the second half, using his speed to take on and get past defenders with a full head of steam.
Just when it looked as if the game was San Jose’s to win, Columbus striker Dominic Oduro nearly put his team ahead when his strike struck the crossbar in the 83rd minute.
Wondo almost scored a game winner for San Jose on the other end, when a beautiful through ball from Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi found the striker in space on the right for a cracking strike that just missed outside the right post.
San Jose goes back on the road next week for a tough test facing a second place Colorado team coming off a huge road win against Toronto FC.
Mark Watson gave his standard answer when asked what needs to change in order to get a win next week:
“We are gonna work at everything. I think we’ve conceded goals too easily and we haven’t scored enough goals….We’ll look at all aspects of our play, we always do, there’s things that come out of every game that we need to do better, so we’ll continue to do that, and continue to work on the positives as well.”