The Western Conference leaders, Sporting Kansas City, came into San Jose hoping to improve on their three road goals this season but the San Jose Earthquakes were able to hold the visitors scoreless in a 0-0 draw. The Quakes’ offense struggled to get going on an uncharacteristically hot afternoon in the Silicon Valley as the heat seemed to drain both the players and fans of energy. Kansas City almost walked away with a late winner but a huge David Bingham save on Graham Zusi kept the sides level.
Much of the first half found Sporting in control as the visitors took advantage of sloppy passing from San Jose to dominate the possession battle 60% to 40% and out shoot the Quakes nine to zero.
Benny Feilhaber almost put Kansas City up 1-0 in the third minute as his free kick was able to go all the way through the box and clatter off the post but the Quakes were able to clean up the rebound.
Neither side would take a shot for the next 25 minutes until Feilhaber was able to cut through the defense and work a give and go with Dom Dwyer but his shot was blocked by the San Jose defense and out for a corner.
After thirty minutes of play Sporting started to find their footing in the match and create more shots, although it was inadvertantly that they almost took the lead in the 36th minute. Feilhaber’s corner kick traveled right to David Bingham but his punch deflected off the head of Roger Espinoza and bounced down towards goal. Thankfully for the home crowd, Cordell Cato was standing on the goal line though to make the headed clearance and keep the match scoreless.
Sporting continued the pressure to close out the half but consistently faltered when creating in a dangerous position. No play more perfectly personified their issues than Latif Blessing’s run in the 40th minute as he made a fantastic turn around the defense and into the box, only to trip on the ball as he tried to cut back.
San Jose’s best look in the first half came in stoppage time as Cato was able to make a run down the sideline and put a low, powerful cross into the box but there was no one in the middle to meet it.
When asked about San Jose’s energy in the first half, Coach Dominic Kinnear was very frank with his answer, “First half [energy]was very low. We started out slow and we got a little bit better but not a whole lot.”
The start of the second half looked more of the same for Sporting as just minutes in they were already pressuring the Quakes defense and taking shots at goal just minutes in but the finishing from Kansas City left more to be desired.
After starting slow, San Jose began to grow into the match as they earned their first corner in the 51st minute and their first shot in the 53rd. They began making more dangerous runs and trying seeking through balls as the momentum seemed to switch to the home side and give life to the sweltering crowd.
San Jose looked to their bench and brought on Shea Salinas for Cato in the 70th minute and then gave Jackson Yueill his MLS debut in the 75th minute for Tommy Thompson. Both substitutes brought energy onto the field that the Quakes had been lacking.
“With the weather I think for me to come on, it was the perfect time” said Yueill. ”For me and Shea to come on and bring a spark to the game, created a few chances at the end.”
Yueill’s passing across the pitch put his teammates in dangerous positions, notably a 40 yard cross field ball perfectly to Danny Hoesen in the 80th minute that resulted in a good shot for Hoesen although Tim Melia was able to make the save en route to his ninth clean sheet of the season.
As stoppage time hit it looked as though neither defense would be broken but with just seconds left in the game, Graham Zusi worked his magic, cutting into the box and beating last defender Andres Imperiale for a one-on-one with Bingham. Zusi aimed for the bottom left corner as Bingham charged out and made his body just big enough to get a fingertip on the ball to push it wide.
Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes thought Zusi was sure to score the game winner if not for the fantastic save, but ultimately was happy with his team’s performance.
“Being able to come into somebody’s place, possess the ball we did, create the chances that we did, sometimes it doesn’t go in and that’s okay. Very good from our team. The chances we created were tremendous.”
San Jose: Bingham; Lima, Imperiale, Bernárdez, Sarkodie; Cato (Salinas 70’), Thompson (Yueill 75’), Godoy, Hyka; Wondolowski, Hoesen
Kansas City: Melia; Besler, Opara, Sinovic, Zusi; Feilhaber, Sánchez, Espinoza; Fernandes, Blessing (Medranda 69’), Dwyer (Rubio 76’)
San Jose: None
Kansas City: None
San Jose: Godoy (Caution 73’), Wondolowski (Caution 74’)
Kansas City: Besler (Caution 78’), Espinosa (Caution 86’)
San Jose Earthquakes
Sporting Kansas City