SANTA CLARA, Calif. — After what San Jose players called a dispirited and disjointed effort in a midweek loss to Chivas USA, the Earthquakes looked to put that lackluster effort behind them by coming out strong in a tough home test against Philadelphia on Saturday.
San Jose managed to show some fight, but they still lacked cohesiveness, failing to generate much offense in what ended up as a scoreless draw against the Union.
“I thought [the performance against Philadelphia] was a lot better performance than [against] Chivas,” said head coach Frank Yallop after the match. “I thought at times we played OK, we just couldn’t sustain it. I just think we’re misfiring a little bit right now. Not just in front of the goal, because we’re not really getting in front of the goal that much.”
The Quakes roared out of the gates, but what initially looked promising ended up being a disappointment as San Jose managed just two shots on target the entire night despite edging the Union in possession.
Both attempts came via Ryan Johnson, first in the 15th minute then a close call in the 48th, when he crashed his attempt on the crossbar that could’ve meant the difference between three points and one.
“It was just a bit frustrating,” said forward Chris Wondolowski, who hasn’t scored in league play since a 3-0 win over Columbus on May 14. “It’s just one of those things that it’s just frustrating we couldn’t find the back of the net.”
The frustration came to a boiling point shortly after the hour mark, when Yallop was ejected for arguing with the referee over a 50-50 call that went the Union’s way.
“Sometimes it all comes out in one outburst,” Yallop explained. “I’d like to apologize to the referee, I didn’t mean to say what I said, but I thought it was a tough one.”
By failing to find the net on Saturday, the Quakes have now scored just twice in their last five matches. Whether it’s been failing to punish the LA Galaxy, not being able to close out against the Red Bulls, or just not winning a should-win game against Chivas USA, San Jose just can’t seem to piece the puzzle together.
“[We've] got to figure it out,” said Yallop. “It seems we’ve not quite figured out how to play as a unit to break any team down. Whether they sit back or come at us, we’ve not really kind of got on the same page with that.”
But not all was a lost cause on the night. The Quakes found an ounce of solace in the way the defense performed, getting their first clean sheet after giving up two goals in each of their last two games.
Jon Busch came up big a number of times to deny Philadelphia’s Danny Mwanga and Sébastien Le Toux, and the center-back duo of Bobby Burling and Jason Hernandez also held strong to help San Jose salvage a point by keeping an ever-threatening Union off the scoreboard.
“Our fight and spirit was a million times better,” Wondolowski said. “We defended really well as a team. We played better offensively, but we’re still lacking the final pass, the final touch, and that’s something we need to continue to work on.
“We’re a very positive group, we’re all staying together and continuing to fight,” added last year’s Golden Boot winner. “We know it’s right there. It’s not like we’re getting outplayed in any of these games. We feel that we can play against anyone and we feel that we’re still a good team.”