SANTA CLARA, Calif. – This time, Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin needed to muster all of his talents to keep the San Jose Earthquakes off the scoreboard.
Facing a Quakes squad that didn’t record a single shot on goal in the teams’ 0-0 draw on April 19, Irwin made seven saves Wednesday night – several of the spectacular variety – to keep things level in another scoreless draw between Colorado and San Jose.
Irwin came into the game ranked third in the league in terms of save percentage and goals-allowed average, and he proved his value time and again Wednesday. He cemented a fourth shutout in five matches for the Rapids (4-2-3) with an 88th-minute deflection of Chris Wondolowski’s attempt from seven yards.
The ball caromed off the far post and out, costing the Quakes (1-3-4) a chance at securing their second straight home win after a slow start at Buck Shaw Stadium.
But that was just the capper on an already impressive performance for Irwin.
Wondolowski’s headed redirection from point-blank range in the 30th minute prompted a clawing left-handed save by Irwin, who also dropped to his knees to block Khari Stephenson’s dipping 36th-minute free kick from distance. Irwin did well to push the rebound from that ball wide to his right, just out of range for an attempted sliding toe-poke by Quakes winger Atiba Harris.
Stephenson, making his first start since rejoining the Quakes this season, also pushed a 25th-minute blast just over the crossbar.
Colorado’s best first-half chance might have been spoiled when Chris Klute fired high and wide on a ball that came loose from Edson Buddle’s strong run into San Jose’s box. Rapids forward Gabriel Torres had been lining up the 16th-minute chance but arrived a step too late.
San Jose, pushing for a second straight win at Buck Shaw, were kept off the scoreboard by another spectacular Irwin save in the 62nd minute, when he threw up his right hand to parry a 14-yard blast by Harris.
Irwin was finally beaten in the 67th minute – by a pass from San Jose winger Shea Salinas – but the ball was smartly intercepted by Rapids captain Drew Moor before Alan Gordon, perched on the doorstep, could jam it home.
San Jose stay home and next host FC Dallas on Saturday. Colorado also head home and host last-place Chivas USA on Sunday.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Clint Irwin (COL)||Spectacular performance from the second-year Rapid, whose seven saves included three in the late going.|
|2||Khari Stephenson (SJ)||Jamaican got a spot start and turned in one of his better run-outs, particularly in neutralizing Dillon Powers.|
|3||Brandon Barklage (SJ)||Ddid some nice defensive work in second half after Görlitz went down, particularly on Charles Eloundou.|