The Colorado Rapids held the San Jose Earthquakes to a scoreless draw at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, leaving the Quakes’ playoff hopes hanging precariously as the club heads into a crucial meeting with Sporting Kansas City next weekend.
Although both sides created numerous good chances, the game will be remembered for their impotency in front of goal, it at all.
The Quakes and Rapids are the two lowest-scoring and lowest-conceding teams in Major League Soccer so far this season, so it should come as no real surprise that Saturday night’s encounter ended scoreless. The two teams have each partaken in four goalless draws so far this season, over a third of the league’s entire total.
The presences of United States national team goalkeepers Tim Howard and David Bingham were instrumental in keeping the scoreline down. On average, there is a goal every nine shots in MLS, meaning tonight’s game should have yielded two or three goals if not for the excellent work of the United States national team stoppers.
“It was a typical San Jose versus Colorado game to be honest,” said Quakes goalkeeper David Bingham. “We knew that the two best defenses were going up against each other. They had a couple of chances and we had a couple of chances. Nothing too crazy but our defense played great again. The guys in front of me are top-notch and make my job a lot easier.”
Colorado broke in behind San Jose’s lines on numerous occasions early on, but their wasteful finishing gave Bingham the advantage. Will Powers put Marlon Hairston in behind with a lovely little scooped pass in the fourteenth minute, yet Bingham burst off his line to close down the space and Hairston couldn’t find the target with a first-time volley on the turn.
Dominique Badji then broke away on a quick counter-attack and tried to round the goalkeeper with a fake, but Bingham stayed on his feet and was able to shepherd the striker wide.
“I saw him breaking through and did not have time to think,” said Bingham. “I just came out, got in a good spot and if he puts it in the side netting, then he puts it in the side netting. I do not want to guess or sell myself out. I just kind of played true and I was able to do enough to push him away.”
Badji’s hesitance to pull the trigger also cost him in two other occasions in the second half and Bingham was able to make the saves.
The Quakes grew into the game, keeping long spells of possession in Colorado’s half as the first half wore on. Victor Bernandez fired narrowly over from long distance on the half-hour mark and Darwin Ceren also came close in the thirty-fourth minute, but Tim Howard’s first big test came from Alberto Quintero just before the break. Darwin Ceren clipped a lovely ball over the top to Chris Wondolowski, who headed it down for Quintero to poke on target from close range. As ever, though, Howard was there to make the stop.
Playoff hopes are fading
A draw didn’t particularly suit either side, with fans of both teams disappointed by the lack of intensity on display, but the result was clearly more damaging to the Quakes, given their dwindling playoff hopes. Dominic Kinnear’s men are now second-to-bottom in the Western Conference, five points below the line with just six games left in the season.
The Quakes will need a roaring comeback to survive, yet recent form has been but a whimper, with the club having the worst offense in MLS this season. The club recently sacked General Manager John Doyle in large part due to this “boring” unproductive soccer, as President Dave Kaval put it, but the team have not yet improved. Two points from their last five matches with just two combined goals put past fellow playoff strugglers Columbus Crew, Seattle Sounders, New England Revolution, and Houston Dynamo.
Next Saturday’s home game against Sporting Kansas City now becomes a near must-win, and a loss would leave the gap at a nearly insurmountable eight points.
Yet Kinnear remains optimistic, saying that his team are “still in it.”
“If we look at the standings we have got some games in hand on some people, but games in hand are only good if you win them,” he mused. “I do not care where we are at in the standings, I want to win the game no matter what. It would have been a great lift for us if we did. We have to move onto the next one and get ready.”