The story had already been written on Saturday night for the San Jose Earthquakes. A frustrating performance before a key road swing was about to see the Quakes come away empty handed in a must win home game. But approximately 30 seconds before the final whistle, Shea Salinas and Chris Wondolowski teamed up to re-create some of the “Goonie Time” magic from 2012 as the Quakes salvaged a 2-2 draw with the Philadelphia Union Saturday night at Avaya Stadium.
With time winding down and the Quakes pressing for an equalizer, Salinas found a seam on the left side of what been a stout Union defense and got deep into the box before being mowed down by Josh Yaro, forcing Referee Ted Unkel to immediately point to the penalty spot. With the crowd on edge and the game on the line, Wondolowski came up in the clutch once again, as he calmly and coolly slipped a ball to the right as Union Goalkeeper John McCarthy went flailing the other direction.
“It’s the last few seconds of the game,” said Salinas. “I’m just trying to find space to get the ball in the box and guys kept coming to step in and I was able to push it by one guy, two guys, I don’t know how many guys, and finally right when I was about to cross it, the guy kicked me. We got a PK and right when we get the PK, Wondo’s pretty good from the spot.”
“Its a very difficult way to drop two points,” said Union Manager Jim Curtin. “The players put a ton into the game and never quit. We weren’t able to make a final play to kill off the game, and with 30 seconds left we paid the price.”
San Jose came out on the front foot early and created some early magic in the third minute when Valeri ‘Vako’ Qazaishvili, making his first MLS start, created some magic out of limited space just inside the 18 yard box and slotted home his second goal since joining the team last month. “He looked very dynamic, might have been his best game in a Quakes jersey,” said Manager Chris Leitch. “I think we got a goal relatively early, then I think maybe put our foot off the pedal a little bit.”
After a collision in front of goal that saw Defender Flo Jungwirth exit in the 19th minute, the Union began to exploit an already weakened Quakes defense and were rewarded when a set piece ball bounced around the box and found itself on the foot of Jack Elliott, who slammed it into the upper corner to tie the game at one and continue the Quakes misery in defending set pieces. “Set pieces is as much about mentality as much as anything else.” “In this particular one tonight, the ball hit the floor a couple times, which you don’t like to see. You like to attack and make sure there’s only one chance at it, and that chance is dominated by us.”
Set pieces were once again an issue for San Jose in the 55th minute, this time as a long throw in to the box was headed by Jack Elliott to a wide open Roland Alberg at the top of the box, who sent a shot through traffic to give the Union the lead.
With time ticking away, the Quakes began an onslaught of the goal with several dangerous chances, including three corners in the final ten minutes. Each time, the Union backline was up to the challenge until Salinas and Wondolowski’s heroics deep in stoppage time salvaged a valuable point in a crowded Western Conference and denied the Union an opportunity to gain some road points that could have proven valuable in the fight for the final playoff spot in the East. “You fight, you claw, you have a lot of guys going at them at the end, not wanting to give up, putting pressure on them and you get a very valid PK call,” said Leitch.
Both teams are back in action midweek, with San Jose kicking off a pivotal three game road tip Wednesday night at Real Salt Lake while Philadelphia will also be in action Wednesday looking to pick up some points against table toppers Toronto FC.
San Jose Earthquakes