CHESTER, Pa. – During halftime of 1-1 draw between the Philadelphia Union and San Jose Earthquakes, San Jose midfielder Simon Dawkins made a friendly pit stop on the way to the locker room to chat with Philadelphia goalkeeper and fellow Jamaican Andre Blake.
“We had a conversation at halftime about maybe I’d score,” Dawkins said. “He said I wouldn’t.”
Blake was wrong about that.
With the Quakes down a man and a goal, Dawkins delivered a dazzling dribbling display before beating Blake in the 83rd minute, lifting visiting San Jose to a hard-earned point at Talen Energy Stadium.
Afterwards, Union head coach Jim Curtin lamented that “six or seven guys could have bailed us out” on the goal, while Philly players expressed both admiration and surprise at Dawkins’ brilliant individual effort – his first goal of the season.
It didn’t come as a surprise to the players in the San Jose locker room, though.
“Simon’s an unbelievable player,” said winger Shea Salinas, whose second-half entrance helped the Quakes turn the tide of the game. “He does that in practice all the time. We always tell him to take more guys on and shoot more in the game. So that was pretty sweet. I think by the time he shot the ball, there were three or four guys on the ground.”
While that kind of goal is certainly what the Earthquakes expect out of Dawkins, they hadn’t seen as much of it as they would have liked after signing him to a DP contract in January.
Head coach Dominic Kinnear hoped that would change in Philly as the Earthquakes tried to overcome a 59th-minute red card to Anibal Godoy, moving Dawkins from the wing to a No. 10 role.
“I tried to get [Simon] more on the ball,” Kinnear said. “Obviously the red card makes it a little bit more difficult. Shea Salinas came in too, at that particular point, and opened the game for us with his running. And it kind of gave Simon more freedom underneath too.
“His finish was excellent. It was something that we definitely needed and it was his first goal of the year for us and it couldn’t have come at a better time for us.”
Dawkins, who scored 14 goals for the Earthquakes during a loan stint in San Jose from 2011 to 2012, vowed there’s more to come.
“I want to try to chip in with goals like the last time I was here,” the Jamaican said. “So hopefully this is the start of something for me this season.”