I said it in my pre-match report: it would be a huge mistake to count out the Quakes at CenturyLink Field. I even predicted a 2-2 tie, going out on a limb to say we could scavenge a point (I think I am the only person on record as saying the Quakes would take points in Seattle). But NOTHING prepared me for the heart this team showed tonight.
Looking at the line-up, I was surprised to see Alashe starting, Shea on the bench, and Pierazzi nowhere to be seen. I was befuddled when Kinnear used a conservative 4-2-3-1 set, the same formation which netted zero goals on few scoring opportunities in the Big D. I was sure Kinnear made a mistake 24 seconds in when Seattle scored after an Alashe turnover. But then I was reminded why I love my Earthquakes.
At the 13th minute, Wondo equalized on a perfect cross from Marvell Wynne. What made the play was that the Seattle defenders marking Wondo had given up on the play, assuming the ball was going to roll out of bounds, but Wynne sprinted to the end-line keep it alive, which set up the equalizer. Game on.
Any fear that the Quakes were inferior to Seattle was quelled after the first half. The score was tied, but the Quakes owned a 7-3 shot advantage, and had more scoring chances to show for it. But could they really upset the #1 ranked team the league, even after they gave Seattle a goal in the first minute?
At the 48th minute, almost the same time Wondo missed in Dallas, he buried a Brad Evans mistaken pass to his keeper, putting the Quakes up 2-1. The Quakes started the second half as they finished the first: dominant, and Wondo reasserted himself as one of the league’s top threats to score with his second goal of the night.
At halftime, I tweeted that Bernardez makes me nervous and endorsed Renato as our new starting CB with Goodson. At the 52nd minute, Bernardez did not disappoint, playing way out of position and earning a straight red for his studs-up kick on Seattle’s Michael Azira. He will not be playing Avaya’s opening match.
At the 62nd minute, we lost our other center-back Renato, and Adam Jahn was brought in so Alashe could drop back even more into defense. Now things were going to get interesting. A rookie defender who made a huge mistake at the beginning of the match is going to be the relied upon to stop the juggernaut Seattle offense. Fortunately he got help from another Quakes addition in the off-season.
At the 70th minute, Innocent Emeghara, whom I have defended since before the season began, dribbled the ball from the halfway line to 20 yards out, gave a nice give-and-go pass to Jahn, made a specatular run behind the Seattle defenders, juked Brad Evans out of position, and bent a shot past Frei to the far post. 3-1 Quakes, a goal they would need to win the game. I hope this silences the Innocent haters for now.
Seattle halved the deficit when Obafemi Martins tapped in a ball by Pineda (the ball was touched by Rose, who looked to be offside) in the 84th minute, 3-2. But the Quakes would not be denied, as they continued to gain possession of the ball, despite being a man down, and earned their three points on the road.
In the end, the Quakes showed themselves to be the better team. One of my fellow bloggers says they “stole three points,” but I disagree. Stealing points makes it seem like they were not the better team, yet came away with a win, but the Quakes were better this night. They proved it by not giving up after that first minute goal, going up 2-1 early in the second half, playing a man down for the last third of the match, scoring an insurance goal despite being a man down, and not folding after Martins’s goal. Well done, Quakes. Well done.
Man of the Match: Dom Kinnear. How did this guy know to have Ty Harden on the bench and no JBP? How did he know how to make the perfect subs at the right times? How did he get his team to play this well despite such a disappointing loss at Dallas? How did he know to start Alashe, who had a great 89+ minutes after his first minute turnover, and who held his own on defense with 10 men to secure the win? Wondo had the brace, Innocent had the game winner, but Kinnear’s coaching brought everything together.
Next game: Chicago Fire at home.
Photo credit: San Jose Earthquakes Facebook Page