As a long, doleful season draws to a close for the San Jose Earthquakes, it was impossible to expect much from their final home game of the year; and yet, the Quakes still managed to disappoint in a scoreless draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps
The Quakes are a whole two standard deviations away from the average attacking output in Major League Soccer this season, with just thirty-two goals in thirty-three games. They have won just three times in their last twenty-five outings, scoring seventeen goals in the process.
A scoreless draw is, by all means, entirely in character of this year’a team — they have more of them than any other this season, Sunday afternoon’s contest being their fifth of the year. And yet, an energetic opening half hour had portrayed the potential that this could have been a much more entertaining contest, rendering the ensuing hour of soccer a slugfest by comparison.
“The stats don’t lie,” Quakes coach Dominic Kinnear told QuakesTalk.com after the match. “We haven’t scored enough goals this year. I’m not going to hide from it.
“It’s not that we’re not trying to score. It’s just the quality in the last little bit has escaped us today and for quite a few games this year.”
Kinnear started designated player signing Henok Goitom up front and young star Tommy Thompson in the midfield in order to offer a “fresh” approach in their penultimate game of the season, and they pummeled the Whitecaps goal early on.
Thompson ran the show in the midfield, clipping a gorgeous diagonal ball over the top to Simon Dawkins, rounded his man down the left and tested Paolo Tornagi with a low effort across goal.
Tornaghi was his making first Major League Soccer appearance in over three years and certainly endured an eventful welcome back as he was forced into numerous smart saves from Jordan Stewart and Cordell Cato in the opening fifteen minutes.
— San Jose Earthquakes (@SJEarthquakes) October 16, 2016
Quakes MVP Chris Wondolowski also came close from Dawkins’ lobbed pass over the top, but was denied by Tornagi from a tight angle to the right of goal.
At the other end of the pitch, Christian Techera’s sliced volley forced David Bingham into action for in the eighteenth minute and Masato Kudo came close from the edge of the area three minutes later.
Bingham also came up big on multiple occasions early in the second half, denying Erik Hurtado’s volley in the fifty-fifth minute. Although Hurtato pounced on the rebound, his followed up effort cannoned back out off the crossbar.
For all the intensity of the first half, however, the game fizzled away in the closing half hour, with neither side managing a single shot on target or even coming close to creating one. Although both teams are basically out of the playoffs, they seemed more preoccupied with maintaining the clean sheet than throwing men forward to nab a victory and boost club morale.
This was the same tentatively that kept the Quakes’ playoff push from ever getting off of the ground, which made the game an entirely fitting eulogy for their regular season campaign in a sad, melancholic way.