On a night when the San Jose Earthquakes desperately needed three points, the team had to settle for one.
After grabbing an early 1-0 edge, the Quakes played to a 1-1 tie against Real Salt Lake on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara.
“We are disappointed with the draw,” said head coach Mark Watson. “We were pushing right to the end to win the game. We wanted three points out of the game.”
With the result, San Jose (6-8-10) remains in eighth place, eight points off the final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings. However, Watson doesn’t think the team’s playoff chances have been squashed just yet.
“We have complete belief that that’s still achievable and that’s our focus.”
The Quakes’ lone goal was set up by the skill of Chris Wondolwoski. In the 15th minute, the striker slalomed into the box and then laid off a pass to Sam Cronin, who pulled his shot past Nick Rimando and into the back of the net. For the midfielder, the goal was just his second of the season with both occurring in the last week.
In the 34th minute, the Quakes were called for what proved to be the decisive penalty, as Olmes Garcia was dragged down in the box. Javier Morales lined up the kick, stutter stepped and sent Jon Busch flying the wrong way, as Real Salt Lake evened the score at 1-1. Many of the squad’s players protested the call, and Watson certainly didn’t agree with the ruling.
“I won’t comment on the referee,” said Watson before commenting on the referee.
“There’s no point in doing that, but at the time I didn’t think it was a penalty and I watched the replay and I didn’t think it was a penalty again. That’s frustrating to give up the tying goal that takes two points away from you on a play that you don’t think was a penalty.”
Wondolwoski weighed in, as well.
“That changed the game on a questionable call, at that.”
As the club’s captain explained, he was baffled by the officiating throughout the game.
“To be honest, I thought the referee was terrible both ways.”
In stoppage time, Atiba Harris latched onto the end of a corner kick and sent a header toward the goal, but Rimando snagged it on the line.
Up next, the Quakes take on the Portland Timbers on September 7. Kickoff is scheduled for 2pm at Providence Park in Portland.