The San Jose Earthquakes were given every chance to make the 2017 Major League Soccer Playoffs and they took the very last one as Marco Ureña netted a ninety-third-minute winner to beat FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake to sixth place in the Western Conference.
The Costa Rican substitute ended the club’s four-year playoff drought in the most dramatic fashion, scoring deep into five minutes of stoppage time to secure a 3-2 victory over Minnesota United. Chris Wondolowski had the all-important assist, cutting the ball back for Ureña to convert the simplest of tap-ins.
The Quakes had appeared to let slip their opportunity when Minnesota scored an unlikely eightieth-minute equalizer from a corner, but the Quakes had just enough left in the tank to turn it around at the end of a grueling regular season.
It hadn’t always been so nerve-wracking. The Quakes took an early lead through Danny Hoesen, whose darting runs wrought havoc in the Minnesota defense. Wondolowski’s low effort across goal forced Bobby Shuttleworth into a fingertip save with less than two minutes on the clock and Hoesen’s hard work rewarded their efforts with the all-important go-ahead goal ten minutes later. The Dutchman poked the ball past his marker to break through on goal and the forward kept his nerve to tuck a low finish into the back of the net.
Hoesen’s goal was joined but a flurry of strikes across MLS as the LA Galaxy took an early lead versus playoff rivals FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake struck an early go-ahead goal versus Sporting Kansas City.
However, the proceedings took a sharp turn for the worse for Chris Leitch’s men when Jerome Thiesson curled a gorgeous strike into top corner to bring Minnesota level. Dallas also scored two quick turnaround goals to leapfrog the Quakes in the standings while RSL added to their tally.
The Quakes pushed to reassert dominance towards the end of the half but their pressure was more sporadic. Shea Salinas’ curling effort nearly found the back of the net but Shuttleworth once again produced a fantastic diving save and Vako also fired inches over from the edge of the penalty area. Despite their best efforts, the Quakes left it all to do in the second half.
Their intensity in the second period was par for the task. Leitch’s men burst from the gates and Wondolowski buried a low finish from Hoesen’s far-post cross. As Dallas extended their lead over the Galaxy, it became evident that the Quakes to win secure a playoff berth. Minnesota’s equalizer set the stage for that to happen in the most dramatic of fashion.