The tests have come early and often for the San Jose Earthquakes to start the 2016 Major League Soccer season. Saturday night against MLS power FC Dallas, a couple of mistakes inside the penalty box kept the Quakes from passing their latest test with flying colors, instead having to settle for a 2-2 draw.
But with Dallas sitting atop the Western Conference standings and riding a nine-game unbeaten streak at home, the Earthquakes will take the road point in what has been a trying stretch of games to start the MLS season that has San Jose sitting at 2-1-2.
As expected, the San Jose defense was under fire the entire evening. The flurry began in the first 20 seconds of the match when a Fabian Castillo shot forced a great David Bingham push save. But San Jose turned that early Dallas frenzy into offense of its own to calm the match down. Simon Dawkins threaded a ball to Quincy Amarikwa on the left side. The forward then swung a pretty cross into the box that bounced near the penalty spot and then was rifled into the net by a crashing Alberto Quintero to make it 1-0 in the 4th minute.
The goal was the first of the season, and first in MLS, for the Panamanian.
The first of two San Jose mistakes in the box came 30 minutes later when Shaun Francis pulled down a rushing Ryan Hollingshead. Tesho Akindele stepped up to take the penalty kick, beating Bingham to his right for the equalizer.
Ten minutes into the second half, San Jose seized the momentum again. In the 55th minute, Amarikwa put in some dirty work to hold the ball up top, fighting off a couple of defenders before playing a gem toward Chris Wondolowski who one-touched the pass inside the 18 past the Dallas keeper to make it 2-1.
The goal was Wondolowski’s fourth of the season and 113th of his career, putting him one shy of Ante Razov for a share of fourth all-time in MLS history.
Dallas did not let up, despite Wondolowski’s goal. They held possession for nearly 60 percent of the game and continued to come at San Jose, out-crossing the Quakes 21-12 for the match. In the 62nd minute, one of those crosses was cleared in the opposite direction by Victor Bernardez and wound up in the back of the San Jose net for an own goal to gut punch the Quakes and tie the match 2-2.
FC Dallas out-shot the Earthquakes 19-6 for the game.
MAN OF THE MATCH:
Amarikwa does so much work that never makes a box score so it’s nice to see him be rewarded with a pair of assists on Saturday against FC Dallas. Pass one showed great vision in playing a ball to a trailing Quintero and pass two was a great combination play with Wondolowski, showing growing chemistry and synergy between the two forwards.
Unfortunately, Bernandez’s own goal could not come have come at a worse time. While Dallas was pressing and challenging the San Jose defense, there was a sense that the Quakes might hold Dallas off and earn the three points on the road. The mistake was very uncharacteristic of the center defender.
FC Dallas: Kellyn Acosta (yellow, 14’), Carlos Gruezo (yellow, 41’), Mauro Rosales (yellow, 87’), Maynor Figueroa (yellow, 87’); San Jose: Fatai Alashe (yellow, 84’)
Reported attendance by FC Dallas was 13,386.
Notably absent from the San Jose lineup were Anibal Godoy (knee) and Clarence Goodson (back).
It’s a quick turnaround for the San Jose Earthquakes as they’ll welcome the New York Red Bulls at Avaya Stadium on Wednesday, April 13. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and you can catch the match on Comcast SportsNet California.