The San Jose Earthquakes had to figure another loss was coming when Amado Guevara stepped up to take a penalty kick on Saturday. The Toronto FC midfielder is known for being as close to a lock at converting penalties as anyone in MLS so his kick seemed like a foregone conclusion. At least before Joe Cannon saved his attempt on Saturday.
Cannon’s save helped San Jose salvage a 0-0 tie, a result that continued Toronto FC’s struggles. TFC has struggled badly on the road, but now scoring goals anywhere is becoming a problem for the Canadian club.
San Jose knows all about goal-scoring struggles. The worst offense in the league failed to score yet again, even though new attacking additions Darren Huckerby and Francisco Lima made their debuts for the Earthquakes on Saturday.
SBI correspondents Duane Rollins and Kevin Matthiessen took in the action and shared their thoughts on the tie with us:
Toronto comes close, but falls short yet again
By DUANE ROLLINS
About an hour after the final whistle had blown on Toronto’s 0-0 draw with San Jose, most of the crowd of hardcore support that has ventured back to the various supporter’s pubs is subdued. A little frustrated too. Despite having all the ball and even drawing a penalty TFC once again found itself dropping points. Eight times the Reds have taken the field since a 3-1 win against Colorado June 14.
Eight times—four league games, two cup games and two friendlies—Toronto has failed to win.
It’s enough to make even the most wide-eyed optimist a little grumpy.
So we sit and vent over likely a few too many adult beverages. We share war stories from the game, talk about the need for a striker, how to make our chants and songs more unified and about our frustrations with tourist fans that venture into the supporter’s section but just don’t get it.
Sunshine and rainbows it ain’t. Nor, at times, is it a PG-13 conversation. The boys—and it is mostly boys—need some time to recover, to shift the focus from the flat performance hours ago to the next conquest.
But, as the drinks flow and the crowd consolidates the mood slowly starts to lift. "Yes, that was the worst penalty I’ve ever seen in my life," you mutter to the supporter beside you, "but, if we can just get Dichio back things will be different."
"No, I don’t know why Carver didn’t change things up sooner, but that Ibrahim kid is gonna be something, eh?"
Laughter can be heard again. Hope for a better result the next time out is restored. The group is boisterous again, full of swagger, its confidence gleaned from the power of the whole.
We know that we belong to something. It’s intoxicating. And, it matters—to us, to the city and to the team.
What happens on the pitch matters too. Clearly. But, it’s always in the hours that follow a disappointing performance that full perspective dawns. Years from now it’s not the details of a particularly bad cross from Carl Robinson that you will remember, but rather the friends that you stood shoulder to shoulder with each and every week. They are different ages, different cultures, different people—and most would be strangers if not for the football team you support. But, come Saturday things change. Then, you are all Reds—brothers, really, that you would do anything for.
Supporters or ultras or what-have-you, they are known by many different names the world over. In MLS they are the Barra Brava, Section 8, the ESC and more. They aren’t always understood or appreciated, but they are the lifeblood of this league.
In my case they are called U-Sector. And they are frustrated by the Reds recent form. But, they also know that with a bounce here or a big play there that things will quickly change. Toronto will win again and we will be there to celebrate it. And if we are wrong? Well, we will be there then too.
New players give San Jose some hope
By KEVIN MATTHIESSEN
As Carl Robinson was whipping a nice cross into the Earthquakes box, I thought to myself, "Wow this referee has been really good. So far just about every call and every non-call has been spot on. Since this was only his second game in charge, I was quite impressed. But like my 5:20AM alarm clock, I suddenly awoke from my daydream about good refereeing by Paul Ward’s whistle. I was thrust back into the nightmare that is MLS officiating once again.
Paul Ward lay a big turd on the Earthquakes today and gift wrapped a lark of an opportunity to the Reds. With Amado Guevara stepping up to take the kick, the devil on my left shoulder was saying, "This is it man, the Quakes are sunk."
The angel on my right said, "The Joe is back in form. He’s gonna save this one. Just watch."
So I went with the former when I said to my wife, "Come here and watch Joe Cannon save a penalty."
And save it, he did. There was some worry of the rebound and in a split second I thought, oh here we go. Rebound right back to Amado and in. But no, James Riley championed the rebound by out-hustling Guevara to it and kicked it out. "Yeeeeeeesssss!" I cried in Max Breto-esque fashion.
I’d say that the next best thing to an Earthquakes goal is penalty save. That’s what we got on Saturday and that’s just alright with me. Of course that essentially earned a point for San Jose. Add to that the fact (to the best of my knowledge) no one was injured, the new boys got a nice run out, and you have satisfied Quake fans.
When the league announced the reincarnation of the Quakes during last year’s all-star game, who would have thought that Toronto FC would become one of the Earthquakes best rivals? I don’t think there’s a soul out there that would’ve made that prediction, but I think that’s exactly what we have. Heck, with the Galaxy rivalry flushed down the toilet by having those games at Oakland, I’d almost say it’s this years best rivalry for us. (Scratch that I momentarily forgot about the Houston rivalry.)
In case you’ve been living under a rock, the genesis of said rivalry is thusly:
1) Ronnie O’Brien’s departure
2) Darren Huckerby’s snub
3) Expansion proximity
I’ve circled the October 25th game as a special one.
So Saturday we had the surprise start of the Earthquakes debutantes. I almost fell off my couch when I saw the starting lineup. It was another one of those moments where I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the San Jose leadership. I thought to myself, "Yeah why the hell not. Go show us how much ass you can kick."
I thought Scott Sealy played very well. He showed great strength and ability holding the ball up, thought quickly and distributed the ball perfectly. He did everything Kei Kamara could not except for get on the score sheet. As we did for Kamara for the first ten games or so, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and give him time to settle in.
Francisco Lima played OK. You can see he has excellent composure on the ball and reminds me of, uh, um, Ramiro Corrales! They are both slow lefties with great ball handling and distributing skill. As he gains fitness I think they’ll do OK. I hope they both start se
nding dangerous through balls though and enter the attack down the center more when the ball is out on the wing.
Darren Huckerby definitely looked a little out of shape, sucking wind out there. But you can tell that he is going to get plenty of chances in MLS. If he had a little bit more "go" in him, he would have had three goals. I haven’t read any articles yet (to taint my views), but I bet he’s quoted as being excited at his prospects this season. "Just give me a few more weeks" I’ll bet he said and he’s behind the defense like a shadow at dusk.