In front of a sold out crowd at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara on a night when the San Jose Earthquakes desperately needed a win, the squad had to settle for a disappointing 0-0 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps.
“It was frustrating,” head coach Mark Watson said. “I didn’t think it was a great performance, but I thought we created a bunch of chances and if you’re going to win games you’ve got to convert on at least a couple.”
The Earthquakes fall to 10-11-8 on the season, and languish in eighth place in the Western Conference standings, five points off the final playoff spot. On a night when the team had 22 shots on goal, the final touch proved elusive.
“Our finishing has to be better,” Watson said. “I thought there was a lot of positives to take out of tonight, but ultimately if you don’t score goals you can’t win games.”
Both teams had plenty of opportunities early on, and perhaps the best chance for San Jose fell to Clarence Goodson in the 19th minute. After Shea Salinas whipped in a corner kick, the rebound landed at the feet of the tall center back, who somehow managed to send his volley wide of the frame.
“It was a tough night to get the ball in the back of the net,” Alan Gordon said. “It was just one of those games where you’re so close, but you just can’t get it in.”
Some of the best chances for the Earthquakes and the Whitecaps came in stoppage time. Right at the beginning of the extra time, the Whitecaps almost capitalized on a big error from the San Jose defense. Darren Mattocks had a look at goal, but the forward dragged his shot just wide of the post.
Just moments later, Chris Wondolowski had the chance to claim the lead for San Jose, but the striker couldn’t get the ball off his feet. It was a play that seemed to epitomize the night for a squad that appeared half a step off.
“I didn’t lose hope obviously until the final whistle,” Gordon said. “I thought we were going to get one. I think I could have done better on a couple of opportunities, and we just didn’t take out chances.”
In the dying seconds of the game, Gordon had a pair of chances, including a challenging volley.
“It’s a tough ball to hit. It’s coming straight out of the air.”
When pressed by a reporter about what had happened, a clearly frustrated Gordon responded: “What do you want me to say?”
Time is running short for the Earthquakes, as the squad is five games off the fifth playoff spot with five games to go.
“We’re not going to say the clock is run out. I think we were expecting three points, and it’s definitely a letdown to get a tie here. We needed three points, but you never know. You never know what’s going to happen. There’s still five games, and there’s no reason to quit now. We’re right there.”
Next up for San Jose is Champions League action on Tuesday as the Earthquakes host the Montreal Impact.
“We know we have to win that game to stay in the competition,” Watson said of the game with Montreal, who topped the Earthquakes 1-0 back on August 7.
The Earthquakes return to MLS play next weekend as they match up with Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The Earthquakes are 1-10-3 on the road in 2013.
“We’re disappointed,” Watson said. “We really needed the three points, but there’s still lots of points on the table. Although the games are running out, so the points will be crucial from this point forward.”