ORLANDO, Fla. – San Jose Earthquakes coach Dominic Kinnear was relieved and delighted to escape with a point from the emotional cauldron of Camping World Stadium Saturday night after his two substitutes combined to salvage the 2-2 draw against hard-charging Orlando City SC.
On a night when Orlando – and much of the country – stopped to commemorate the tragic death of 49 people in last Sunday’s Pulse nightclub tragedy, Kinnear’s men refused to let a stoppage-time goal send them home empty handed.
And, after Shea Salinas provided the cross for fellow sub Chad Barrett to head the Quakes’ first goal, it was Salinas who came up with the 94th-minute equalizer that cancelled out an equally dramatic strike from Orlando’s Brazilian ace Julio Baptista.
“Obviously it was in the back of our minds that the city of Orlando had had a tough week,” Kinnear explained. “The players did a really good of respectfully embracing all the events and stoppages, and the moment of silence.
“It is not often that you play in a city where there has been such a tragedy the week before so obviously it affects you, and we just hope that everyone gets together and makes the hurt go away as quickly as possible, which we know is going to be very hard.”
Kinnear admitted the emotional nature of the game had been tough to counteract, but his team stayed focused and used the late energy provided by theirs subs.
“I am sure Adrian [Heath] and his team felt a bigger sense of pride than normal when they stepped on the field tonight,” Kinnear added. “Our job was to try to be the spoiler. Orlando is a tough enough place to play anyway as they are so hard to beat at home, and it was just a case of keeping the guys focused on the game.
“In the end, our substitutes came up big for us. It was good to see Chad get his first goal for us, it was a big one, but Shea’s was even more important as it tied the game. Those two guys came in, made an impact, and I must be honest that we could have been a couple of goals down before we scored our first one. We were a bit lucky to get out of here with a draw, but full credit to the players for not putting their heads down.”
The Quakes coach was almost as pleased with the goals as he was with snatching a point at the end, after not scoring since May 22 at Los Angeles.
“It has been a while since we hit the net and it has been a frustrating time,” he added. “If you want to win games you have to score goals, but to walk out of here with a point after being 2-1 down late is very satisfying.”