Recap: Lenhart drives SJ rally in 2-2 draw with Swansea
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Apparently, the Goonies’ comeback powers aren’t limited to MLS play.
Steven Lenhart scored in the 79th and 85th minutes to help the MLS-leading San Jose Earthquakes pull out a 2-2 tie against English Premier League side Swansea City in an international friendly Tuesday at Buck Shaw Stadium.
The Swans, who had goals from Danny Graham and Chico in the 41st and 60th minutes, respectively, ended their preseason US tour with a win, loss and tie.
Lenhart, a 62nd-minute substitute, cashed home a beautiful square pass from Shea Salinas to bring San Jose back within a goal. Then he headed home a curling cross from Rafael Baca deep on the right wing to bring the Quakes level.
Lenhart’s tallies redeemed the Quakes after an opening hour in which San Jose’s reserve-laden lineup failed to impress.
Yallop was hoping to see which of his lesser-used players would step up and demand more playing time down the stretch of the Quakes’ Supporters’ Shield chase. But it wasn’t until Yallop began filtering in his starters that San Jose began to look like the MLS’ leading side.
New Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup had reason to be impressed by Graham, a holdover from last season’s 11th-place Swans club, and Chico, a Spanish newcomer signed from Genoa after playing for Laudrup on loan with Mallorca in 2011-12.
Graham capped an impressive stretch for the visitors by opportunistically snapping up possession after Quakes left back Ramiro Corrales tried to knock a long cross Swans back to goalkeeper David Bingham.
The one-touch pass didn’t connect, and Graham – Swansea’s leading scorer last season, with 12 EPL goals – ran onto the loose ball, rounded Bingham and routinely slotted it home.
Chico beat his marker to an Ashley Williams cross and rammed his header home despite Bingham’s best efforts to defend the back post.
Leroy Lita had a couple of late chances for Swansea, but couldn’t put either ball on frame.
San Jose nearly burst on top in the seventh minute when Sam Garza intercepted a loose Swansea pass in the Swans’ defensive end. Garza fed a lead pass that had Quakes forwards Sercan Guvenisik and Cesar Diaz Pizarro practically running into each other. Guvenisik took possession and beat Swansea goalkeeper Michael Vorm, but pushed it just wide of the near post as well.
Garza forced a leaping save from Vorm in the 23rd minute when Corrales came up with another Swansea turnover. But the Swans grew into the game, dominated the final 15 minutes of the first half to the point where their goal seemed inevitable.
Graham had a look at goal after Quakes newcomer Mehdi Ballouchy misfired on a back pass in the 35th, but the shot skidded wide. Michu, another one of Swansea’s new signings from Spain, flashed a left-footed shot wide from 20 yards just two minutes before Graham finally broke through.
As promised, Yallop held most of his regulars out of the starting lineup; defenders Jason Hernandez and Jed Zayner were the only holdovers from San Jose’s 1-1 tie against Chicago this past Saturday. Ballouchy, acquired Monday via trade from the New York Red Bulls, made his San Jose debut on the Earthquakes’ left wing.
Laudrup continued to mix and match his roster, which was missing three young stars – Joe Allen, Scott Sinclair and Neil Taylor. That trio is part of the British Olympic team hoping to take gold in the London Games.
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.