The San Jose Earthquakes had to survive their first red card of the season to see out their first shutout in more than three months.
Despite losing captain Ramiro Corrales to yellow cards in the 77th and 80th minutes Saturday, the Quakes were able to stifle an FC Dallas squad buoyed by talisman David Ferreira’s return to the starting lineup and come away with an always-valuable road point via a 0-0 tie.
It was San Jose’s first clean sheet since March 31, when the Quakes capped a run of three shutouts in their first four matches by blanking Seattle, 1-0, at CenturyLink Field.
“[A clean sheet] was the No. 1 priority coming into the game,” Quakes midfielder Sam Cronin said. “We talked about it a little bit this morning, that we were disappointed not to get more shutouts recently, so we’re happy with that.”
Full Highlights: DAL 0, SJ 0
Center back Jason Hernandez returned to the kind of form he displayed in the Quakes’ 2-1 win at Real Salt Lake -— a result that gave them first place in the Supporters’ Shield race, a position they will maintain heading into the third and final tilt with RSL next weekend at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Hernandez delivered a critical deflection in the 31st minute while laying face-down on the turf, knocking aside Fabián Castillo’s shot after goalkeeper Jon Busch was unable to fully corral a lead pass meant for Brek Shea.
But it was left to Cronin and his partner in the middle of San Jose’s midfield, Rafael Baca, to put a stop to Ferreira’s early string of dangerous passes — including the one that was ticketed for Shea in the 31st.
“I thought our center midfielders were excellent tonight,” Quakes coach Frank Yallop said. “Sam Cronin and Rafa Baca covered a lot of ground against basically a three-man [central] midfield, with David Ferreira dropping pretty deep to pick the ball up and do his thing. They did a nice job of collapsing and making it difficult for those three players in there.”
Ferreira, who missed more than 14 months with a broken ankle, seemed to tire after intermission; in the final 45 minutes, halftime substitute Jackson took up the mantle of being Dallas’ most assertive attacker.
Yet credit was also due to a Quakes defense that grew increasingly stingy as the night went on.
“[Ferreria] had some great passes, in the first half especially,” Yallop told MLSsoccer.com, “and I thought we did a good job of stopping his supply and going with runners.”
From a glass-half-full perspective, the Quakes’ solid defensive work — Busch was only called on to make three saves — meant they didn’t have to come up with yet more late-game heroics to secure their point.
“We’ve conceded some early goals recently and been forced to come back,” Cronin said. “We wanted to make sure that we didn’t put ourselves in that difficult situation this game.”
Instead, the Quakes were left to rue the chances they couldn’t cash in, most notably a 36th-minute chip from Chris Wondolowski that Hernán Pertúz cleared off the line and an 83rd-minute counter in which Shea Salinas held the ball one touch too long before trying to square a pass to Wondolowski, affording Matt Hedges the opportunity to break up the play with some big help from goalkeeper Kevin Hartman.
“To get a clean sheet here is never easy,” Yallop said, "but I think we probably deserved to get more from the game. I thought we created some real clear-cut chances that we could have took.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.