With Chris Wondolowski and Cordell Cato on Gold Cup national-team duty, Matias Perez Garcia and Innocent both out due to injury, Sanna Nyassi suspended because of yellow-card accumulation and Ty Harden recently traded, the remaining members of the San Jose Earthquakes could boast of a grand total of four goals and five assists heading into Sunday night.
So it was no surprise that San Jose depended on their defending to try and chisel out points against a red-hot Portland Timbers squad. That the Quakes held firm for more than 90 minutes made it all the more galling when Jack Jewsbury struck a ball inside the visitors’ penalty area at almost the same moment as San Jose midfielder Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi tried to clear it.
The result looped over helpless San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham and, from the tightest of angles, nestled in the side netting for a 91st-minute goal and a 1-0 Timbers victory.
“Really disappointed,” Quakes coach Dominic Kinnear told reporters in Portland. “We defended pretty well tonight, for long periods of time. I think the way the game was going, it was either going to be a spectacular goal or a bit of a freaky one [to break up the shutout], and it turned out to be the freaky one.”
San Jose (7-6-4) were bidding to extend their unbeaten run to four matches with what would have been their third clean sheet in that stretch. Instead, they were left to feel sorrow over giving up a result in second-half stoppage time for the second time this season. The Quakes were caught out by Blas Perez’s 92nd-minute strike in a 1-0, season-opening defeat at FC Dallas on March 7.
“We did the hard part, we kept them at bay for 85-plus minutes, and then just one fluke of a play, and that’s just how it goes,” Bingham said. “That’s not good enough from us. We need to finish that game out and pick up points on the road.”
Bingham and the Quakes were under intense pressure during much of the second half, when a relatively even game tilted in the hosts’ favor. Portland outshot San Jose 14-2 after the interval, and forced Bingham to make six saves on the evening.
“I think we played well defensively,” Quakes center back Clarence Goodson said. “I don’t think that we were quite good enough to get a win. Certainly, giving up a goal in the 90th minute was harsh. I think we certainly should have gotten a tie out of this, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
San Jose faces a short turnaround before their next match, Friday against Houston. They should have Nyassi available on the right wing, and Kinnear said the team is hoping to have Perez Garcia -- who Tweeted a photo of himself at home receiving cold-and-compression treatment on his left leg during the game -- ready to face the Dynamo.
If not, the Quakes could be once again depending on their defense, which remains tied for third in the league with a 1.00 goal-against average, to carry the day.
“Defensively, I think we’re the best team in the league,” Bingham said. “We kept ourselves in the game. Unfortunately, we didn’t generate as many chances as we wanted, but we fought the whole game, and it’s a bit unfortunate to come away with zero [points].”
Geoff Lepper covers the San Jose Earthquakes for MLSSoccer.com