The San Jose Earthquakes rode a second-half goal from rookie Julian Nash to salvage a 1-1 draw with Deportivo Alavés of the Spanish First Division Monday night at Spartan Stadium in an exhibition match that featured a bench-clearing brawl. Nene scored the lone goal for Alavés off a penalty kick.
The Earthquakes took the opportunity to play a lot of their younger players, as, among the starters, only captain Wade Barrett started San Jose's most recent game, a 2-1 win over Columbus Saturday night. The rest of the lineup featured five players who have never started an MLS match.
San Jose leveled the match at 1-1 in the 65th minute on a tremendous goal by Nash. The Santa Clara University product rose above a crowd near the six-yard line and flicked a back header into the lower right corner off a Chris Wondolowski free kick from the left side.
Any ideas of the match turning into just another exhibition were dismissed just seven minutes in, when a bench-clearing brawl broke out. The melee began when Earthquakes midfielder Ian Russell nudged Alavés defender Eduardo Alonso into his goalkeeper Roberto Bonano. As a result of the collision, which sent Bonano sprawling into the turf, Alonso suffered a bloody nose and had to leave the contest.
Following the initial contact, which resulted in a foul call against Russell, Alaves defender Oscar Tellez initiated a shoving match and was eventually shown a red card by referee Colin Arblaster. San Jose goalkeeper Jon Conway, who came all the way from the other end of the field to join the fray, was also ejected, forcing the Earthquakes into an early substitution. Barrett stepped aside to make room for backup goalkeeper Robby Fulton, a rookie from Stanford. Russell was shown a yellow card for his involvement in the fracas, which took approximately four minutes to sort out.
When the dust cleared, the match settled into a defensive struggle, as neither team generated much in the way of goal-scoring opportunities. Alavés employed a low-pressure defense, often keeping all of its field players on its own half of the field. San Jose was unable to penetrate the Alavés defense, generating just two shots total in the first half.
Deportivo Alavés broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute on a penalty-kick goal by forward Nene, who also drew the foul in the area. The play started on a throw-in along the left sideline, as Nene got behind Earthquakes right back Tighe Dombrowski and made his way into the penalty area. Dombrowski clipped Nene from behind and the forward converted with a left-footed strike into the upper right corner to make it 1-0.
Fulton was forced into a difficult save in second-half stoppage time, as he reacted well to a deflected shot off the foot of second-half substitute Wesley Lopes Da Silva. Danny Kadah is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.