STANFORD, Calif.—Each portion of the San Jose Earthquakes’ 4-4-2 formation had to undergo some kind of shift when center back Victor Bernardez -- the only field player to log every MLS minute for the club coming into Saturday night’s match against the LA Galaxy -- was forced off the pitch due to injury inside seven minutes.
Far from falling into disorganization, however, the Quakes not only overcame the absence of their acting captain but also thrived, hitting the woodwork twice and generating a season-high 23 shots before finally getting a 90th-minute goal from the man who replaced Bernardez -- Chad Barrett -- to earn a 1-1 tie with the Galaxy at Stanford Stadium.
It was a critical point earned from a situation that could have turned dire. With Clarence Goodson out for a 14th straight game, and Andreas Imperiale shelved for his eighth, the Quakes were already pressing Marvell Wynne into emergency duty alongside Bernardez. The only nominal defender out of six field players on the bench was Cordell Cato, a winger who has seen time at outside back for San Jose.
So coach Dominic Kinnear dropped midfielder Fatai Alashe into his backline -- a role he had also played in a pinch as a rookie last season -- and plugged Simon Dawkins into midfield as a new partner for Anibal Godoy. Barrett went up top to work in concert with Quincy Amarikwa.
“You’ve just got to deal with it,” Kinnear said. “Looking down the bench, we don’t really have a center back, per se, so Fatai is the next one in line. It’s just the thought of, ‘What’s the best combination?’ and Fatai was the easy [choice].”
“We expected Victor to kind of nullify [Gordon],” Quakes winger Shea Salinas said. “Fatai stepped in there and did a great job. He was physical all night. He took a few blows to the face and kept playing. Give him a lot of props.”
Kinnear said that Barrett was chosen as the replacement in part because he could mark on set pieces. It probably didn’t hurt that he was coming off his first goal as a Quake and brimming with confidence.
Barrett pinged the crossbar just before halftime with a 15-yard chip spooned over Jelle Van Damme and Jeff Larentowicz, a shot that could hardly be considered a sure thing. His second encounter with the bar, in the 80th minute, was far more painful -- an open look at the edge of the 6-yard box from Kofi Sarkodie’s cross which somehow avoided finding the back of an open net.
“I was a little bit in shock,” Barrett said. “I think everybody was. It’s one of those ones on the training ground where you’re just kind of embarrassed. That’s exactly what I was; I was embarrassed that I missed it.”
Barrett got one more chance on a free kick from Salinas, an outswinger from the right side that Barrett bounced past Brian Rowe.
“For me, it was more personally gratifying because I had that terrible miss,” Barrett said. “If it was another five minutes, I think we would have had them.”