April 10, 2011 MLS--Victory Again Avoids Earthquakes At Buck Shaw (from MLSsoccer.com)

Victory again avoids Earthquakes at Buck Shaw
San Jose tie Toronto, 1-1, but certain wins at home will come
Geoff Lepper
April 10, 2011

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Getting better results at home was one of the main things on San Jose Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop’s offseason to-do list.

So after three matches at Buck Shaw Stadium have failed to yield a victory, Yallop is taking heart in the little things that haven’t yet showed up in the Quakes’ results. And in the wake of San Jose’s 1-1 tie with Toronto FC on Saturday, he professed certainty that his team’s pattern is going to soon change.

“If we play like that, we’ll beat teams – for sure,” Yallop said. “I think if you ask Toronto, they’ll feel that we should have scored at least two goals tonight. They had their chances in certain spells of the game, but I felt that we dominated play and came away with only the one point and not three points.”

On the one hand, it’s safe to say San Jose should have snuck out with a victory if not for a momentarily lapse from midfielder Sam Cronin, who inadvertently set up Alan Gordon’s go-ahead goal for Toronto in the 27th minute.

Cronin had been set to head Danleigh Borman’s deflected cross out of harm’s way when he heard a call from goalkeeper Jon Busch at the last second and “got caught between two minds.” Cronin wound up flicking the ball out of Busch’s reach and it landed four yards from goal, where Gordon pounced on it for his second goal in as many weeks.

“I take 100 percent responsibility,” Cronin said. “Just when I flicked it, I had a bad feeling about it. They finished it well and capitalized. We had plenty of chances to come back in the game, but it was just an unlucky night, I guess.”

Indeed, it was another maddening game in which San Jose had more and better quality chances but simply didn’t cash them in – the Quakes outshot Toronto 16-9, 7-4 in terms of shots on goal.

When the Quakes moved away from their direct style in favor of more ball possession, Yallop cautioned against holding onto the ball simply for the sake of possessing it without generating anything truly threatening. To this point, Yallop says his team hasn’t fallen into that trap.

“Not at all,” Yallop said. “If we didn’t have any shots or chances around the goal, then I’d say we don’t look dangerous. [But] I thought we looked dangerous. We moved the ball well, created some space, slipped guys in. Another night, we score three or four and we’re standing here going, ‘What a performance, it was great, Wondo got a hat trick,’ and everybody’s happy.”

Most notable among San Jose’s unfinished chances was Chris Wondolowski’s 51st-minute attempt. Khari Stephenson sprung the 2010 Golden Boot winner with a perfect chip, but Wondolowski pushed his far-post attempt too high, giving Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei a chance to parry it away.

“We don’t like it, we’re not pleased, but we’re not concerned,” Wondolowski said of the slow home start. “If we were getting outplayed and we have a lot of questions, maybe that’s where we start being concerned. We all still feel very confident in each other and our ability.”

But the Quakes can’t wait forever. San Jose made the MLS Cup Playoffs with just 24 points at home last season, the lowest amount of any postseason participant. Counting on another above-.500 road mark this year is taking a big risk.

“All we can do is keep working,” Busch said. “We’re playing very good soccer, both sides of the ball. The bottom line is, we’re not finishing our chances. … [After] three home games in a row [without winning], I don’t think you call it we’re unlucky anymore. Somebody’s got to step up and bury chances.”

Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at sanjosequakes@gmail.com. On Twitter: @sjquakes

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