Everybody makes mistakes, and the San Jose Earthquakes suffered a plethora of errors as they fell 2-1 to Sporting Kansas City in their first road match of the 2017 season. But when goalkeepers make mistakes, it’s costly, and David Bingham’s very uncharacteristic howler stood above the rest as the difference in a sluggish away defeat.
In the final moments of the match, with the Quakes down 1-0 and pushing for an equalizer, the twenty-seven-year-old goalkeeper spilled a low, spinning effort into the back of his own net, reminiscent of Robert Green’s infamous error for England versus the U.S. at the 2010 World Cup. It appeared that Bingham misjudged the ball’s rapid spin after Soony Saad’s low shot had deflected off the foot of Nick Lima; regardless, the ball not only rolled through his legs but was actually deflected onto goal when the shot appeared destined to roll wide of the far post. The mishap is even more painful for the timing, given Bingham’s pending call-up to the USMNT’s match this Friday at Avaya Stadium, and even more surprising due to his frequent heroics for the club.
Unfortunately, the error was far more memorable than anything else about the dour defeat for the Quakes.
Even in the opening minutes, there was a foreboding sense of déjà vu for the visitors, who allowed two early goals to the Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend, as SKC forced multiple turnovers high up the pitch, opening space for Gerso Fernandes to fire a low effort on target.
The Quakes applied their own pressure as well, but SKC were more composed in tight spaces, quickly switching their lines and exploiting gaps in behind the Quakes’ midfield. Dom Dwyer had an early penalty shout and Benny Feilhaber curled wide from a three-versus-one situation in the nineteenth minute, but a more explosive and clinical team, such as Vancouver, could have made the Quakes pay for their sloppiness.
Lingering communication issues, which cost the visitors dearly against Vancouver, still seemed to plague the Quakes’ backline, particularly with new centerback Florian Jungwirth. The Quakes attempted to possess their way out of SKC’s pressure, yet wayward touches of Shaun Francis and Fatai Alashe rendered such technical build-up nearly impossible and, given SKC’s readiness to launch on the break, were to their own detriment.
The visitors were lethargic from front to back and it was to the surprise of no one when Feilhaber put SKC in the lead, rifling a swerving shot into the top corner from twenty yards. Jimmy Medranda nearly doubled SKC’s lead moments later with a ten-yard side-volley from Feilhaber’s cut-back, but the ball flew narrowly wide.
Francis, in particular, was the target of SKC’s pressure and his left side was where the Quakes were most vulnerable. At times, captain Chris Wondolowski could even be seen back-tracking deeper than the midfield in order to compensate for Francis’ positioning. Fernandes forced Bingham into a low stop early in the second half after breaking in behind Francis and, later in the half, Dwyer nearly made the fullback pay for a poor back-pass and lazy touch from Bingham, but an awkward bounce of the ball spared their blushes.
Dwyer dragged a low effort inches wide in the fifty-seventh minute, yet SKC couldn’t quite bury the game and slowly began to retreat into their own half as the clock ticked down.
Shea Salinas replaced Jahmir Hyka on the hour mark, giving the Quakes more structure as they searched for an equalizer, and Danny Hoesen was also introduced in place of Marco Ureña shortly thereafter. Fatai Alashe made way for Thompson in San Jose’s final substitute, offering the Quakes more dynamism as they attempted to unlock SKC’s compact defense.
However, Bingham’s error ultimately shot the Quakes’ chances just as the clock ticked ninety minutes. The goal, somewhat oddly, incited a lively comeback from the Quakes as Jungwirth pulled one back deep into stoppage time and Dawkins saw a low half-volley tipped inches wide by Tim Melia. This time, however, it was too little, too late.