In 2010, nine of the San Jose Earthquakes’ 13 regular-season victories were of the one-goal variety.
Thanks to the 91st-minute efforts of Vancouver’s Davide Chiumiento on Wednesday night, the Quakes are still searching for their first such win in 2011.
San Jose thought they had rediscovered their one-goal swag when they made Chris Wondolowski’s cheeky 39th-minute heel flick stand up all the way through regulation time. But when Chiumiento’s cross sailed through the box untouched and nestled into the back of the net, the Quakes had nothing left to do but rue the two points that got away in a 1-1 tie - points which would have lifted San Jose past the Whitecaps and out of last place in the Western Conference.
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“It’s just so frustrating on the bench, not to get that second one that I think would have sealed the match,” San Jose coach Frank Yallop said. “It’s three precious points, but we let it slip away.”
Chiumiento’s tally was similar to a game-tying goal credited to Chivas USA’s Alejandro Moreno in the Goats’ 2-1 victory against San Jose on April 23. Moreno put the barest caress - if he touched the ball at all - on a looping, 35-yard free kick from Heath Pearce which left San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch stuck between charging headlong into the mixer or waiting to guard against a redirected header. Chivas went on to win 2-1, the first time in 2011 an MLS team lost after scoring the initial goal.
In this case, Busch waited to see if a diving Greg Janicki could reach Chiumiento’s left-footed cross from the right-wing. Janicki didn’t, and Busch couldn’t recover to stop the curling inswinger.
“When you [allow a] score on a cross, you definitely realize that it’s not going your way,” Wondolowski told MLSsoccer.com.
This one arguably hurt more, though, because the Quakes, frankly, didn’t deserve to beat Chivas. And the same couldn’t be said Wednesday.
In their first trip to Vancouver since a 2003 exhibition against the Whitecaps’ USL incarnation, San Jose dominated play after the 20-minute mark. The Quakes pressured Vancouver defensively, forcing mistakes like the breakdowns that helped set up Wondolowski’s goal. And San Jose peppered Vancouver’s defense with 20 shots - even if only five made it through to test sometimes shaky keeper Jay Nolly.
“I think we did everything we talked about pregame, so we’re pleased with that,” said midfielder Sam Cronin, who meshed with new partner Brad Ring to hold down the center of the midfield with aplomb. “It’s not ideal, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to make sure we put an honest effort in. That’s what we did last season, and we’re back to it again. These games might be unlucky and tough to swallow, but we’ve just got to keep going. “
You’d think that might be tough to keep doing when such work doesn’t get rewarded in the standings for San Jose, who are now winless in their last six MLS matches. Wondolowski, however, denies that’s the case.
“No, not at all,” he said. “If anything, I think it inspires us more to fight harder, fight for each other and stick together so we can get that result.”
For his part, Yallop remains convinced that when his team’s luck finally does change, games like this one won’t end with so much drama.
“Football’s a weird one,” Yallop said. “It changes. It comes in waves where, if you’re on a run, you see that out. If you’re not on a run, it seems to creep into your game. But I thought the spirit and the way we played and went about it was fantastic. ... We’ve just got to take the point and move on.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. On Twitter: @sjquakes