For the second consecutive home game, the San Jose Earthquakes left with a 0-0 draw after Saturday night's result with D.C. United at Spartan Stadium. But the circumstances surrounding this result were much different than the May 14 game, in which San Jose played well against league power FC Dallas.
"We're disappointed. We have these games at home and we need to expect to win," said left back Wade Barrett. "It was kind of an ugly game tonight -- we never really got much of a flow going."
The Earthquakes were unable to penetrate D.C,'s five-man midfield all evening and had to settle for more of a counterattacking style. Unlike in previous matches, including last week's 1-0 loss to Kansas City, San Jose could not hold onto the ball for more than a few seconds.
"It was a bit of an inconsistent performance from us tonight," said San Jose head coach Dominic Kinnear. "Give credit to D.C. -- they flooded the midfield and our service to the forwards was just a bit off."
The D.C. central mid duo of Brian Carroll and Ben Olsen did an excellent job of disrupting the San Jose attack, while the third center midfielder, Christian Gomez, was free to create all over the field.
"They put a lot of numbers in the midfield and we never really had the ball for extended periods of time," said San Jose forward Alejandro Moreno. "We never really got into quality positions where we could get into spaces behind them."
With the D.C. United midfield cutting off balls through the ground, the Earthquakes looked to attack through the air. But that's where United had a huge size advantage with a backline anchored by 6-foot-2 Bobby Boswell, who towered over San Jose forwards Alejandro Moreno (5-foot-11) and Ronald Cerritos (5-foot-9).
"They play five in the midfield, and it's difficult to get through that," said San Jose midfielder Mark Chung, playing his first home game for his new club. "And it was tough for our forwards to go against their backs -- they're like seven-feet tall."
Of course, San Jose could have used the presence of 6-foot-1 forward Brian Ching, who is out with a right hamstring strain.
"He's a tough, strong guy up there," said Chung. "Ronald and Alejandro did a great job, but it's just tough for those guys. We're just disappointed with the tie."
Having conceded the vast majority of possession to D.C. United, the Earthquakes were forced to be precise in defense. After a poor back pass by Eddie Robinson in the first minute of the game that nearly led to a Jaime Moreno goal, the central duo of Robinson and Danny Califf was extremely precise in shutting down the potent DC attack.
"They seem to overload the attack, but we did a great job with our communication," said Califf, also making his home debut with the Earthquakes. "We just really buckled down on defense. I don't think it was working for us offensively, but everyone worked really hard on the defensive end of the ball."
United posed unique challenges for the San Jose defense, as their midfielders are prone to shifting around, making it difficult to stay with marks.
"They've got tremendous attacking players -- with their place-changing, they can cause a lot of problems if you're not organized," said Califf. "The guys that they've got up front are dangerous, so I think we're happy that we got a clean sheet."
Danny Kadah is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.