SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Twenty-five minutes into the San Jose Earthquakes’ match Saturday night, Jon Busch recorded his first career MLS assist.
He spent the last 45 minutes defending it against an FC Dallas onslaught.
There was certainly some good fortune involved in the Quakes’ surviving a 10-man second half to hang on for a 2-1 win against Dallas. But if you go by the adage that you make your own luck, San Jose -- and Busch -- richly deserved their second win of the season.
“The second half was just about sticking together, defending, and seeing if we could see the game out,” Quakes coach Mark Watson said. “I’m really proud of our guys, to see the effort and commitment, under extreme pressure, to get the points. . . . Buschy was great tonight. He showed his real quality and class again.”
The 37-year-old -- who last weekend became just the seventh goalkeeper in MLS history to reach 1,000 career saves -- scrambled across and off his line on multiple occasions to help keep the visitors at bay, extending San Jose’s home unbeaten streak to three matches. That’s a huge boost for a club that’s set to potentially lose Clarence Goodson and Chris Wondolowski -- along with already-called-in Victor Bernardez -- to World Cup duty for the next four matches, at a minimum.
“I wish I could say I’m shocked, but I see it every day in practice,” Wondolowski said. “He’s a true professional and does a great job back there.”
Busch was credited with only four saves on the night, but he still affected Dallas shooters even when not stopping the ball.
Example A: In the 82nd minute, Fabian Castillo was sprung free. But Busch closed down the angle so quickly that Castillo’s chip attempt skittered wide of the far post -- one of three such misses in the final 11 minutes of regulation for Dallas players.
“I knew coming out at halftime, they were going to throw everything at us,” Busch said. “We knew we could deal with it. We’ve got good players in this team. We knew we’d be under it for a bit, but I knew we could handle it if we stayed organized. The guys in front of me did a tremendous job dealing with a boatload of crosses tonight. It seemed like every time we headed it out, they got on the end of it and sent it back in.”
But Busch, who dived to his left in a fruitless attempt to stop Ulloa’s shot, scrambled back across his own goalmouth to somehow deliver a full-body save, starting with his hands and ending with his feet.
“You’ve got to credit [goalkeeping coach Jason] Batty,” Busch said. “We do drills like that during the week, where you make a first save, you get up and get across your goal. . . . That, in essence, was that situation.”
And just how close to being over the goal line was it?
“We don’t have to call Toronto,” Busch said, referencing the NHL’s centralized replay center for determining goal-line questions. “We don’t have that yet, so thank God.”
No replay was needed to prove Busch should get the second assist on Cordell Cato’s goal in the 25th minute. With his back line still misshapen from a San Jose corner kick seconds earlier, Busch took a touch on Jordan Stewart’s back pass and let fly with a ball launched down the center of the field. Goodson flicked it on for Cato to chest down and slip past Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez.
“I saw a big body and said, ‘I’m just going to hit it down the middle to one of the big bodies and maybe something good will happen,’” Busch said. “And something good happened.”
Just in the nick of time.