NEW YORK – The defensive game plan was simple.
To alleviate pressure in the tight confines of Yankee Stadium, San Jose Earthquakes head coach Dom Kinnear was looking for long balls out of the back during Saturday's matinee against New York City FC to eliminate easy scoring opportunities for the home team.
The plan worked, for the most part. But when San Jose deviated from that approach, the Quakes paid dearly in a 2-1 loss that saw the visitors squander an early 1-0 lead set up by their own defensive pressure and a Marco Ureña finish.
“We were doing a pretty good job of relieving pressure and playing long, Kinnear said, "and we played it short that time and got punished for it.”
The game-winner for NYCFC came when Victor Bernardez tried to play to Tommy Thompson on the ground, but NYCFC fullback Ronald Matarrita stepped up to take the ball off Thompson’s foot and ignite the sequence that led to Tommy McNamara’s goal in the 67th minute.
“You just have to play, I wouldn’t say mistake-free, but you have to avoid the big mistakes [at Yankee Stadium],” Kinnear added. “When you play into pressure like we did on the second goal, it’s a big mistake and we paid for it.”
Bernardez’s day went from bad to worse when he was sent off on a straight red card for a rash late challenge on McNamara in the 80th minute. It was a call Kinnear agreed with after watching it for a second time.
“From what I saw on the replay, yes I do [think it was a red card],” Kinnear said.
NYCFC leveled four minutes later on a Jack Harrison blast that trickled in off goalkeeper David Bingham’s hands, but the Quakes were still in position to leave the Bronx with a draw or perhaps even a valuable road win.
“We were under a lot of pressure, but overall I think we did well to weather the storm,” midfielder Fatai Alashe said. “It was obviously a positive for us that we scored first, but we couldn’t hold onto the lead for very long. We were kind of just taking pressure for a large portion of the game. But we came into halftime, tried to regroup a bit, and I thought we had a much better second half.”
Still, that half was spoiled by one lapse. The Quakes have now lost back-to-back 2-1 games away from home and have just one win – a 2-1 victory at Vancouver on Aug. 12, 2016 – in their last 17 games away from Avaya Stadium.
“It’s a new season, so this is only our second chance, which is the way we want to look at it,” said San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski. “Our second chance at not being able to come away with three points is frustrating. We’re not coming here for a 0-0 draw, we’re here to come away with three points and to not come away with that is frustrating and concerning.”