San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham had the game of his life Tuesday night, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Seattle Sounders from knocking the Quakes out of the U.S. Open Cup, winning 4-1 in a penalty shootout, after 1-1 deadlock in regulation.
Ironically, the keeper at the other end of the pitch — Seattle’s Marcus Hahnemann — would make the game-deciding save, thwarting a tame effort by J.J. Koval from the penalty spot after Alan Gordon hit the post on San Jose’s previous attempt.
The win sends Seattle to a quarter-final darby with the Portland Timbers after their 3-1 victory against Sporting KC. The Sounders have won the U.S. Open Cup three times from 2009 to 2011 and also eliminated San Jose from the tournament in the 2012 quarterfinals.
San Jose used an experimental 4-2-2-2 formation, aimed at crowding the midfield with the hope of thwarting link-up play between a Seattle attack that has scored more than anyone in 2014.
But the lack of width for San Jose left tons of room on either flank for Seattle’s Marco Pappa and Lamar Neagle to threaten San Jose all evening with dangerous balls in the box.
It took a career performance from San Jose’s second-choice keeper Bingham to keep the Quakes in a game they never got a foothold in — with the Cal alum making a handful of excellent saves in the second half and extra-time.
San Jose opened scoring with an early first-half screamer by Steven Lenhart, followed only minutes later by a Kenny Cooper equalizer for Seattle.
It looked as if the 4,600 attending Tukwila, Washington’s Starfire Sports Complex were in for a cracker, but it would be another 94 minutes before the ball was back in the net.
San Jose’s goal came against the run of play, when Lenhart — known his thumping headers — hit a left-footed rocket from 18 yards out putting the Quakes up 1-0.
The lead would hold for about two minutes, when Neagle created a chance by holding the ball with his back to the San Jose goal, before rolling it to Kenny Cooper, who curled a first time equalizer inside Bingham’s right post.
Neagle has been one of the best players in MLS so far this season, with five goals and four assists in league play.
The first chance of the second half came from the unlikeliest of sources, when San Jose center-back Clarence Goodson intercepted the ball in midfield, and made a galloping run down the pitch, only to scuff a chance in front of goal following a perfect through ball from Khari Stephenson.
The miss in the 53rd minute would be the last good chance of the match for San Jose.
Striker Chad Barrett replaced Kenny Cooper for Seattle in the 78th minute, and it took him less than a minute to put a point blank header on target, only to be denied by a reaction save by Bingham.
Barrett then scorched a shot off the post just three minutes later, and forced another world class save from Bingham shortly after that, this time failing to score on a point-blank effort with his right foot.
But Bingham’s best save of the night didn’t come until extra time. With the game still tied 1-1 in the 105 minute, Bingham came off his line and somehow parried away Lamar Neagle chance right in front of goal.
Just when it looked like he couldn’t do anymore, Bingham was forced to come up big once again in the final minute, with a fingertip stop on a Neagle strike that just saw the ball fly over the crossbar.
The San Jose Earthquakes return to MLS action Saturday when they face the Los Angeles Galaxy at Stanford Stadium. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. PDT on NBC Sports, 1590 KLIV and 1370 KZSF.