Saturday's season-opening 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution provided the San Jose Earthquakes with reason to be optimistic and pessimistic all at once. Such is the case when a team with five new starters blows out to a 2-0 lead in just over 20 minutes only to collapse in the second half against an inspired, rejuvenated Revs squad.
"We got a little sloppy in the second half," said San Jose goalkeeper Pat Onstad. "We gave the ball away in bad areas."
The biggest mistake came not when the Quakes gave the ball away, but when they weren't able to get it in the first place. New England's tying goal in the 73rd minute came when forward Taylor Twellman beat both defender Troy Dayak and Onstad to the ball. Twellman was then able to steer the ball past them with his first touch and roll the ball into an empty net.
"I have to take credit for that one," said Onstad. "That was one I probably shouldn't have come out for. I ended up getting in Troy's way."
After building a 2-0 first-half lead on goals by forwards Brian Ching and Ronald Cerritos, the Quakes allowed the Revolution back into the game in the 52nd minute, when forward Pat Noonan beat an offside trap and scored on a breakaway against Onstad.
"We just lost a little focus," said left back Wade Barrett. "They had guys running down the middle of the field and we needed to stay compact. Hopefully we'll get a little more organized as the season goes on."
Dayak attributed the defensive breakdowns to the team's inexperience.
"We're a very young team -- we're going to get better," said Dayak. "Most of the game was like a prizefight -- it was back and forth with no tempo. When we stopped tackling, we struggled a bit."
The game changed significantly when center back Eddie Robinson was shown a red card in the 70th minute for a hard tackle on New England midfielder Shalrie Joseph. Barrett, who was near the play, was not surprised by the referee's decision.
"It was a hard tackle in the middle of the field," said Barrett. "The way the ref (Baldomero Toledo) was calling the game, it doesn't surprise me [that Robinson was sent off]."
Despite the disappointing result, the Earthquakes had plenty to be optimistic about after their opener, as they generated numerous opportunities, especially in the first half. The combination of Barrett and outside midfielder Brad Davis worked wonders down the left side and strikers Ronald Cerritos and Brian Ching combined well in the buildup of the attack.
"We showed some great signs going forward," said Davis. "The defensive part is easy to change. I think we'll be just fine."
Danny Kadah is a contributor to MSLnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.