SAN JOSE, Calif. - Under normal circumstances, scoreless draws at home are not cause for celebration. But then again, for the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night, these were far from normal circumstances.
Already saddled with a serious knee injury to starting right back Craig Waibel sustained earlier in the week, the Earthquakes withstood injuries to three more starters at Spartan Stadium to salvage a point in a scoreless draw against a strong FC Dallas outfit.
"It's definitely a point earned tonight," said San Jose head coach Dominic Kinnear. "The way the chances were, it could have gone either way. With all the outside stuff and breaks in play, I thought the guys stayed focused, played very well and most importantly, we defended well, especially with two new guys in there."
Second-year pro Ryan Cochrane was forced to enter the game just over 11 minutes into the match as veteran center back Troy Dayak sustained a sprained left knee in a challenge against FC Dallas forward Eddie Johnson. Dayak, whose career has been marred by injuries, will have an MRI on the knee Monday.
"Ryan did a great job. It's hard to come directly into the game like that, particularly against guys like that," said left back Wade Barrett. "But that's what we have on this team, guys that are ready to go when they need to get called upon."
Cochrane worked well together with fellow center back Eddie Robinson to shut down the dangerous duo of Johnson and former Los Angeles Galaxy forward Carlos Ruiz. Neither player was able to generate a single serious scoring threat the entire game.
"I've played against both the forwards before, so I knew what to expect," said Cochrane. "Eddie's got a lot of speed, so for the most part, you try to keep him in front of you. And Carlos likes to body you - he's deceptively strong - but you've got to keep both of them in front of you."
In the 40th minute, Kinnear was forced to make another substitution, as forward Brian Ching suffered a right hamstring strain while executing a back heel along the top of the box. Ching was replaced by Alejandro Moreno, who nearly scored in the 63rd minute when his header was parried away on a reflex save by FC Dallas goalkeeper Scott Garlick.
To top it off, midfielder Brian Mullan went down in the 61st minute with a sprained left ankle after being fouled by FC Dallas defender David Wagenfuhr. Veteran Ian Russell replaced Mullan at the right midfield position and had the best late chance of the match when his lunging header was saved by the diving Garlick in the 71st minute.
"You're going to have injuries during the year, but you don't expect them to happen all in one week," said Kinnear. "We're talking about four guys that have played very well for us."
Even former Earthquakes were not immune to the injury bug as FC Dallas midfielder Richard Mulrooney - still the all-time San Jose franchise leader in games played - had to leave the game in the 34th minute with a knee injury suffered in a non-contact situation.
"It was like we were playing on FieldTurf or something - I've never seen anything like it," said San Jose goalkeeper Pat Onstad. "When Richard got hurt, I guess it was a sign of things to come. It seemed like every time you turned around, there was someone down on the field."
Danny Kadah is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.