SAN JOSE, Calif. – The only problem with the fact that the San Jose Earthquakes have put together so many stirring comebacks this season is the fact that they’ve had to put together so many stirring comebacks.
US Open Cup play has proved to be no different than league play in that regard. That the Quakes recovered in the second half Tuesday night, using Sam Garza’s first two professional goals to knock off the Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2-1 in the third round of the tournament.
The win doesn’t change the fact that San Jose have allowed the opening goal in each of their last five matches. That’s a dangerous trend, regardless of the Quakes’ success (4-2-3 in all competitions) after going down 1-0.
“It’s annoying,” Quakes forward Steven Lenhart admitted after Tuesday’s victory. “I guess it causes us to stay focused for 90 minutes if we want to try to get those goals back, but I don’t think anyone prefers it.”
Coach Frank Yallop told MLSsoccer.com after training Friday that he wasn’t worried about his team’s streak of falling behind, given the nature of several of the strikes. Yallop described Mark Anderson’s 45-yard score, which put the Strikers on top in the 38th minute, as “one of the better goals I’ve ever seen live.”
“Sometimes you’ve got to go, ‘Well done,’ to the other team,” Yallop said. “If it was sloppy, bad play by us, then I’d say it. Columbus [forward Justin Meram] bends it in the top [far] corner from the edge of the box – wonder goal. Great goal by Kansas City on the first one. We can do better, but it’s been quality against us.”
Yallop also pointed out that, with 27 goals on the year, the Quakes are second in the league (one behind D.C. United) and also second in terms of goals per match (1.93, trailing only New York’s 2.00 mark). Given such plentiful offense, Yallop’s thinking goes, early goals will start to fall San Jose’s way.
“We should have been up in that game on Tuesday,” Yallop said. “We had a great chance early in Kansas City [in the 2-1 loss to Sporting]. So we’ve had chances, it’s just the way it’s worked out that we got our goals late. When [goals] come, you can’t pick and choose when that is.”
Until that happens, though, the Quakes will get every opportunity to keep honing their comeback skills, which are at a sharp edge heading into San Jose’s fourth-round USOC match against Minnesota Stars FC on June 5 back at Stanford University's Cagan Stadium, where they defeated Fort Lauderdale.
“The fact that we are making a habit of it – guys know what to do in these situations,” Lenhart said. “Everyone remains calm and continues doing what they’re good at.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.