The San Jose Earthquakes dominated the statistical battle but couldn't lock down a potential fifth straight win, instead settling for a 1-1 draw with Columbus Crew SC at Avaya Stadium on Saturday evening.
Though the Quakes dominated all the first-half stats, and had the best of the match's early chances, it remained a scoreless draw as halftime approached. Then, in the 40th minute, Cristian Espinoza attempted a shot that hit Crew defender Harrison Afful's raised arm at the elbow. Magnus Eriksson buried the awarded PK to finally get the scoring in motion.
Columbus were able to answer in the 65th minute on one of their rare pushes into the final third. Recent addition Luis Diaz spearheaded an attack and was able to fire in a pass in front of goal that Gyasi Zardes authoritatively headed in to equalize. San Jose sought to answer by subbing on two of their most prolific scorers in Shea Salinas and Chris Wondolowski, but weren't able to regain the lead as the Crew sufficiently frustrated them in front of goal.
- THE BIG PICTURE: San Jose are now (go ahead and make sure you're sitting down for this one) second in the West upon earning the result, but they should have won at the minimum given the shots they got off and given that starting left back Hector Jimenez subbed off with apparent injury in the 9th minute. For the Crew, the draw halts a two-game win streak, but they're now on a four-game unbeaten streak after five straight losses, and head into their "Hell is Real" derby next weekend against their in-state rivals with some degree of confidence.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The Zardes equalizer was a culmination of the Crew's perseverance, though it also indicated the level of let-off the Quakes had given how much more dominant they looked in the first half.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: At the start of last month, Eloy Room was helping Curacao make an unexpected run to the Gold Cup quarterfinals where they put the scare into the US national team. On Saturday night, he had four saves (including two crucial second half stops) to preserve the draw for his new team, replacing the 'keeper who he dueled in Curacao's tournament ouster.