SAN JOSE, Calif. — With a less than capacity crowd of 17,456 on hand, the San Jose Earthquakes scored a late goal to equalize against Toronto FC, earning a 1-1 draw against the defending MLS Cup champions.
Lucas Janson, who joined the Reds on loan from Tigre in Argentina earlier this month, scored on his MLS debut to stake the visitors to a 1-0 lead. But Chris Wondolowski, who entered the game off the bench, equalized for the Quakes.
“It doesn’t matter when or how you play,” Wondolowski said. “If you play one minute or 90 minutes, you try to make an impact and try to help the team win. I’m bummed we couldn’t get a win, but it was a good comeback for us.”
It was Wondolowski’s fourth straight appearance as a substitute, a role that he doesn’t relish, but one that allows him to study the flow of the game before he makes his entrance. Against Toronto, he replaced starting forward Danny Hoesen with the Earthquakes down a goal, and head coach Mikael Stahre had very few instructions to share given the situation.
“I don’t have to tell Wondo anything about what is going on,” Stahre said. “I’m really happy that he scored a goal. He helped the team a lot and gave the energy to the team in that moment, so it was good.”
Wondolowski’s 141st career MLS goal was certainly deserving of celebration, but it was the shots the Earthquakes failed to convert that prevented them from beating a TFC side that was not playing at full strength.
“I think our first half, in my perspective, was the best 45 minutes this season,” Stahre said. “We faced a really good team, an organized team with good players as well. Even if they rested some players they still had a really good lineup. I thought we created five really good chances in the first half, and if we scored in the first half we would have won the game.”
The early goings were played out primarily in the midfield, as the closest either side came to scoring came when Jordan Hamilton forced Andrew Tarbell to make a diving save in the 17th minute, but the Toronto forward was flagged for offside.
In the 25th minute, the Earthquakes strung together a clever sequence of passes that culminated in Magnus Eriksson’s blast from inside the area. Alexander Bono went horizontal to deny the Quakes winger, keeping the game scoreless with an acrobatic save.
Ten minutes later, it was San Jose again on the ascendancy. A spilled save from Bono provided Eriksson what looked like an empty net to target, but his shot was deflected by a last ditch sliding challenge. On the corner kick reset, Luis Felipe corralled a loose ball in the area and slammed it goalbound, only for it to hit Danny Hoesen instead.
The Quakes took nine shots in the first half to TFC’s one, but they couldn’t find a breakthrough, and the game was scoreless at intermission.
Hoesen was next up to almost score, as Vako found him alone at the far post in the 50th minute. The team’s leading goal scorer couldn’t convert, as his volleyed shot attempt bounced up and over the crossbar.
Toronto’s rope-a-dope defense paid off, as still scoreless in the 57th minute, forward Sebastian Giovinco entered the game. Two minutes later, Tarbell was picking the ball out of the back of the net.
Giovinco got the play started when he picked up the ball in the middle of the park and dribbled at the Quakes backline. He elected to spray a pass to his right, where Gregory van der Weil, himself a second half sub, squared a pass behind the back line for Janson to stab home at the far post.
The Quakes, down a goal and desperate for a home result, looked to the bench for help, bringing in Chris Wondolowski in the 64th minute for Hoesen. The move paid dividends, as Wondo followed up his own miss in the 77th minute to chip Bono and level the score at 1-1.
It was another step closer to MLS immortality for San Jose’s talisman, as Wondolowski’s goal was the 141st of his career, moving him to within four goals of tying Landon Donovan for the all-time MLS scoring lead.
The last ten minutes of the match was frenetic as both sides tried to find a game winner. Giovinco had his chance, a free kick attempt from 25 yards just as stoppage time began, but Wondolowski was able to block the shot from the wall. The Quakes had one last try from a corner kick, but the delivery fizzled, and the game ended in a stalemate.
The Quakes winless streak at Avaya Stadium stretched to 168 days with the draw. Their last home win came in the season opener back on March 3 against Minnesota United.