One point not enough for Earthquakes

Home draws are usually about as palatable as a lint sandwich. That was never more evident than in San Jose's 1-1 stalemate with the Colorado Rapids on Saturday at Spartan Stadium.

The Quakes' normally slick passing game never got on track. The offensive rhythm never materialized. What ensued was a sometimes dour, rugged affair that frustrated and disappointed players and coaches alike.

"We've been playing so well, and our standards and expectations are so high that I think we kind of frustrated ourselves," said head coach Dominic Kinnear. "We were just a touch off with our movement and our passing. It's game were you look at it and say 'I think we can play better.'"

The source of the Quakes' frustration was twofold. First, there was the physical play offered up by the Rapids, especially in the first half when the visitors committed 17 fouls that were both tactical and physical in nature.

"It felt like it," said midfielder Mark Chung, who was on the receiving end of some heavy challenges. "If they keep fouling us, how are we going to play? It's tough."

Normally, the answer to that is to play faster, but on this night even the simplest of passes were going astray, which proved to be the second -- and larger -- source of San Jose's angst.

"I think tonight we weren't sharp at all," said defender Danny Califf. "I think pretty much every guy on the field passed the ball out of bounds tonight. I think every team goes through games like that. It's just disappointing that it came against a team we could and should have beaten."

Kinnear added, "We always took one too many touches on the ball tonight instead of moving it out of the way of their defense."

Given the relative success of the Rapids in this match, it would seem likely that the Quakes will encounter such tactics again, especially given their rampant success over the last two months. But despite the result, Kinnear hopes teams continue to do that against the Quakes.

"If teams want to come in and defend, that's fine," said Kinnear. "We'll take that any day. We're going to score a goal eventually, and when that happens, what's your Plan 'B'?"

The Quakes appeared to be following that script to a tee when Ricardo Clark put San Jose in front just two minutes into the second half. And in this case, Colorado's Plan 'B' was to launch the ball forward to attackers Jeff Cunningham and Jean Philippe Peguero. Only this time it paid off when Peguero scored an opportunistic goal that not only looked offside from television replay, but also took a fortuitous deflection off the foot of Califf.

The double dose of bad luck had the Quakes' defender steaming afterwards. But a bigger concern to Califf was the beginning of the match that saw San Jose spraying more wayward passes than a Sunday pub team.

"We definitely didn't come out with an attitude that we were going to take it to them," said Califf. "There just wasn't a mental sharpness about our play. It showed straight away from the beginning. Once you start out like that, and you get into that lethargic mood, it's almost impossible to right the ship and try to come back. We couldn't really right the ship."

San Jose will get that chance next weekend when they visit Real Salt Lake.

Jeff Carlisle is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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