If there were any positives to the fact that it took a likely MLS Team of the Week performance from FC Dallas goalkeeper Raúl Fernández to beat them Saturday night, the San Jose Earthquakes were loath to lean on them.
“I won’t find comfort in it when I can’t sleep tonight,” Quakes star Chris Wondolowski said, “but I think that it shows we can play well, and create opportunities and create chances.”
Fernández, who joined FC Dallas this year from top-flight French side Nice, needed six saves to record his fifth MLS clean sheet in 11 matches. That included a couple of nifty moves to deny Wondolowski, the reigning league MVP.
“It’s just the way our season is going right now,” Quakes coach Frank Yallop said. “We seem to be meeting the guys in form, and [Fernández] is in form, for sure.”
San Jose finished with a 17-10 advantage in shots and a 6-4 lead in shots on goal. But Dallas led 1-0 in the only stat that matters – finding the back of the net – thanks to Fabián Castillo’s left-footed curler in the 33rd minute. The Quakes forced five saves out of Fernández from the 78th minute on, but never secured an equalizer.
“You look at that second half, we had some good looks, and we’ve had some good looks in other games as well,” Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch said. “They’re just not falling for us this year. Last year, almost everything we hit went in. That’s the way it goes sometimes. We’ve just got to be strong mentally and keep battling. It’ll turn. We’re doing the right things.”
Fernández parried Wondolowski’s 81st-minute volley with a point-blank reaction stop that Yallop termed “the save of the match.” The Peruvian international dropped to the ground to turn aside Wondolowski’s header at the back post in the 92nd minute.
“I thought we started creating a bit more havoc, a few more chances,” Wondolowski said of the final push, when the Quakes once again had four forwards on the pitch after going to a three-man back line. “I found myself on the end of them and I couldn’t finish. That makes it disappointing.
“[Fernández] made some great saves, and credit to him. He did a great job. ... Truthfully, though, you’ve got to finish those, no matter who’s in there.”
The Quakes will have their next chance at doing that Tuesday in a US Open Cup match against the Charleston Battery. Then San Jose get another chance to end their road futility – the Quakes are 0-4-2 so far this season away from Buck Shaw Stadium – next Saturday in Utah vs. Real Salt Lake.
“It’s definitely frustrating at times, but ... I have 100 percent faith in this locker room and our ability to play,” Wondolowski said. “I know that we’re going to turn it around. We’ve kind of been barely treading water, and it’s about time we finally swim.”