SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Once again, the San Jose Earthquakes proved Saturday that they have the whole "scoring-in-second-half-stoppage-time" thing down pat.
It’s getting the lead during those first 90 minutes that continues to be a problem.
Sure, Sam Cronin’s 91st-minute strike from the edge of the box salvaged a point by completing a 2-2 tie against the Montreal Impact on Saturday. But 10 matches into the Quakes’ defense of their 2012 Supporters’ Shield – a year in which San Jose won 19 of 34 games – Frank Yallop’s team has held a lead for only 96 minutes.
“We need to sort it out, because it’s something we can’t do, especially at home,” Cronin said of the Quakes’ propensity for falling behind. “Playing well is all good and well, but it’s a results-driven league. We’ve got to get results, find a way to get the winning mentality back.”
The draw extended San Jose’s winless streak to six matches and made it clear that, to steal a baseball phrase, the 2-3-5 Quakes need to start seeing some crooked numbers, such as the “3” points that come with victories.
“We’re battling,” goalkeeper Jon Busch said. “We’re doing a lot of good things. We’ve got to start picking up three points, though. Yes, it’s good to get the one point, but it’s happened a few times, and now you’ve got to turn those ones into threes. We did enough today to win, again. We’ll definitely take the point, it’s a positive we came back, but we’ve got to start putting ourselves in better spots and getting three points.”
The double-edged sword for San Jose is that, much like their visit to Chivas USA last week, they created plenty of chances and danger in the final third. As with that Chivas match, however, the Quakes failed to convert on too many of those chances early on, and had to play from behind for much of the second half before securing a 2-2 draw.
“For some reason, we don’t bury teams when we have them on the ropes,” Yallop said. “We should have been 2-1 up [at halftime, when the Quakes trailed 1-0]. So obviously, we’re trying to change that trend ... We can’t play any better. We’ve just got to finish better.”
If not for Adam Jahn hitting the crossbar in the 14th minute and Troy Perkins making top-notch saves on Chris Wondolowski (also the 14th, off the rebound of Jahn’s miss) and Rafael Baca (28th minute), the Quakes would have been off and running with an early lead – and likely a very different outcome.
“Absolutely, it’s completely different,” Cronin said. “But you could say that after every game, really. There’s always what-ifs. Right now, we’re just on the wrong end of a lot of these chances. It’s unlucky, but [through] a team mentality and just fight and battle, you kind of make your own luck. So we’ve got to do a better job there.”
This is the Quakes’ longest winless stretch since a franchise-record 13-game streak during the darkest days of a lost 2011 campaign. But San Jose’s leaders remained resolute, taking comfort in the quality of their work, scorelines aside.
“If you look at the way we’re playing, we’re not playing bad,” Busch insisted. “If you weren’t getting any shots and you were giving up a bunch of chances on the other end and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, to say, ‘God, we’ll never win a game,’ then you might get frustrated.
“But if you look at the way we’re playing, we just have to keep going … The good thing is, one of these days, those are going to start falling for us.”