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CCL Rewind: Gordon’s stoppage-time goal saves Earthquakes in draw vs. Toluca

Alan Gordan

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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:


  1. Quite a finish by Nava. If wondo had his normal game, where he buries those opportunities SJ would be a little happier today. Unfortunate, but early season finishing was the culprit.

    • It’s hard to criticize a guy for his finishing when he’s scored 40 goals in the last two years. Soccer can be cruel.

  2. glad to see them rewarded but their finishing HAS to be better. 1-1 tie going to Toluca is not ideal, 0-0 would have been better. but since that wasn’t an option, i’m at least glad they tied.

  3. Agreed Felix.

    But the game showed a middle level MLS team competing with a top team in Mexico ( with some subs playing ).

    I know people correctly hate San Jose for being thugs, but part of that thuggery is sheer hussle and determination. When Gordon huddled up the team during an injury, there was zero doubt the team would come out at 100%…zero. Many chances then lead to a goal.

    Hard to root against a team that wants it that badly.

  4. Gotta say, not a huge Quakes fan but they looked pretty solid last night for this being the first game of the season. Realizing this wasn’t the full A-squad for Toluca, I still think SJ put a heck of a lot of pressure on that backline and take my hat off to the attack-minded plan.

    One more thing, it doesn’t come through in this highlight real but the Lenhart header “saved” off the line in the first half was 100% a handball, as an objective observer that most certainly was a penalty and deserved a PK attempt.

    Actually looking forward to Wednesday now!

    • Sorry, but that was not a handball – close range, arm at side, ball hit the Toluca player’s torso more than the arm, etc.

      • I’m not going to say one of us is right or wrong, and the ref definitely agreed with you. But my argument is that his arm wasn’t flat to his body, it bowed out significantly (as is evident by the space you can see between his elbow and his jersey). Seen that called more often than not.

        None the less, doesn’t matter, wasn’t called and as they say “the ball don’t lie” so there ya go

      • Definitely a handball with the magic of replay, buddy, but not necessarily one that the ref should be guilty of not catching.

  5. The highlights display the continual disadvantage MLS clubs have in playing this tournament – especially the knockout rounds.
    The Quakes had multiple chances and poor finishing kept Toluca in the game, while the Mexican side put away their one chance off a defensive miscue with style.

    • Certainly a fair assessment, though it sort of begs the question, is this exacerbated by the fact that MLS is in week 1 of their season while MX is smack in the middle? Not making excuses, no doubt Liga MX is a stronger league with stronger teams on average, just wondering.

      It may not count for much, but if I was grading on hustle instead of pure quality, the quakes definitely had the edge.

  6. Its soccer so who knows. but they really needed at least another two of those chances to cross the line for a decent chance next week.

  7. Great fight from the Quakes, but they needed better finishing throughout. Second leg may well be too high of a mountain to climb, but will definitely be rooting hard for them to pull off a shocker!


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