Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
On a night when not much seemed to be going their way, the San Jose Earthquakes were rewarded for their spirit and never-ending fight.
Alan Gordon, who had missed time recently while recovering from offseason foot surgery, came on as a second-half substitute and headed in a free kick for a goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time. The goal gave the Earthquakes a 1-1 draw with Mexican side Toluca in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals match.
The Earthquakes came close on multiple occasions throughout the evening, with forward Steven Lenhart having a header saved off the line in the first half and one bounce off the crossbar in the second half. Earthquakes midfielder Sam Cronin closed out the first half with a tight-angled shot that went just over the bar
Into the second half, Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski had two chances right on the doorstep but his shots were saved both times by Toluca goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera.
Even without all of their first-team regulars, Toluca’s squad kept themselves in the game and in the 67th minute they took the lead through a looping volley from Raul Nava.
After the goal, Earthquakes head coach Mark Watson brought on Gordon and J.J. Koval and began to ramp up the pressure in front of a sold-out Buck Shaw Stadium crowd. In the 79th minute, a Lenhart header ricocheted off the crossbar and the rebound attempts were somehow saved in front of goal and cleared away.
Finally in the 95th minute of the match, a Shea Salinas free kick was flicked on towards the far post and in by Gordon, setting off wild scenes from the Earthquakes fans.
The two clubs meet again next Wednesday in Toluca for the second leg of the CCL quarterfinal round.
Here are the game highlights: