SANTA CLARA -- Fans werent even back in their seats when the celebrations were cut short. Just seconds after Chris Wondolowski had given the Earthquakes what seemed to be a late winner in the 85th minute, Teal Bunbury struck immediately to once again prevent the Earthquakes from taking all three points. It just kind of sums everything up this year, when we need to get a win we cant do it, Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop said after the game. Did we play well enough to win? Maybe, or probably, but its about doing the right things in the right boxes and its defending our box and being more ruthless in their box.
While the Earthquakes controlled proceedings for most of the first half, registering 15 shots and maintaining 60 possession, they never managed to trouble Jimmy Nielsen in the visitors goal. Some credit should go to the Kansas City defense, which blocked eight of the shots in questions, but even so, the Earthquakes had a number of looks at goal in which they couldnt find the frame. I think we could be a little bit sharper and execute better with our final ball, whether its a cross or a pass or the shot, we still need to do better on that and I think thats right now where were kind of lacking, Wondolowski said. After toiling through the second half, with Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch coming up big on two occasions to keep the score at 0-0, the Earthquakes looked to have secured a hard-earned three points. Simon Dawkins switched the ball over to right back Steven Beitashour, who set up Wondolowski with an inch-perfect cross, the Earthquakes best marksman making no mistake on the one-time finish..Simon had a great switch and Steve drove the space and whipped in a great ball behind and even KC defender Aurelien Collin had a bead on it, I swept in behind, Wondolowski said of his finish. I didnt even really know a whole lot about it, I just finished my run and into the goal. However, the celebration would only last a matter of seconds. Immediately after the kickoff, C.J. Sapong beat three defenders and fed the ball to Teal Bunbury, who sped past the rest of the defense to set up a one-on-one with Busch. The U.S. international powered his shot home, leaving the Earthquakes stunned and angry..To give up a goal like that is really deflating, soft in every sense of the word, Earthquakes defender Bobby Burling said. It was one of those plays where maybe its, he got it, I got it, maybe he has it, I dont have it, I dont have it, I dont got it. and then next thing you know the ball comes squirting through. Saturdays game was the 13th in which the Earthquakes have taken the lead, yet it is the eighth where they have subsequently thrown away that lead to settle for a draw or loss. With five draws and three losses resulting from such a scenario, San Jose has dropped 19 points in total, which has been a key factor in the teams struggle to repeat 2010s playoff run. Additionally, six of those games have come in the last half of the season, a far cry from the series of gritty wins that propelled the team forward last year. When the team has needed points the most, the last four games, they have taken the lead three times, only to give it up, and collected three points out of an available 12. Good teams, teams that go to the playoffs and deep in playoffs, win that game 1-0. Plain and simple. And we did it last year, so this group can do it, Busch said.
While the Earthquakes are mathematically hanging on by a thread, only a minor miracle would get them into the postseason. Specifically, it would require the team to win all three of its remaining games and the host of teams ahead of them to drop a significant number of points. While the playoffs are for all purposes out of the question, a trip to second-from-bottom New England is on the docket next week, meaning the Earthquakes have a decent shot at three points. Even though it is unlikely to make a difference in the playoff race, it could present a perfect opportunity for the team to rediscover how to close out games.For more Earthquakes, MLS and world soccer chatter, you can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter: @nicholasrosano