Depleted Earthquakes can’t match early Martins stunner

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An early, jaw-dropping goal relegated San Jose to a 1-0 loss in Seattle, but considering the myriad of absences the Earthquakes carried into Seattle, this may have been the best result Mark Watson could have reasonably expected. Both Víctor Bernárdez and Clarence Goodson were gone from the defense, while the team’s attack was missing all of Chris Wondolowski, Alan Gordon, Steven Lenhart, Yannick Djaló and Shea Salinas. In that light, a one-goal loss at one of the league’s best (albeit Clint Dempsey-less) team almost seems like a fortunate result.

(San Jose’s XI: Jon Busch; Brandon Barklage, Ty Harden, Jordan Stewart, Shaun Francis; Cordell Cato, Jean Baptiste Pierazzi, Khari Stephenson, Sam Cronin; Billy Schuler, Atiba Harris)

Where it not for Jon Busch, it would have been much worse. The San Jose keeper, who drew national attention last week with his performance against Colorado, had another good night, victimizing Lamar Neagle, Alonso, and Chad Barrett. Nobody would have faulted the oft-overlooked keeper for conceding a second goal.

But almost all of Seattle’s chances were isolated, often from distance. Had the Sounders not gone up in the eighth minute, perhaps there would have been a greater desire to extend their lead, but up against an opponent that could put a shot on target until the 91st minute (and that one was from 35 yards), Seattle was never pushed expend its reserves. Coming off a devastating day last week in New England, the Sounders were given 90 minutes of assurances by a depleted San Jose.

Because of that depletion, the Earthquakes shouldn’t take too much out of Saturday’s game, though as the number in their games played column continues to increase, Watson’s worry has to grow. While the Earthquakes have shown they can be a competitive, even resourceful team, they’ve yet to show they’re capable of keeping a team like the Vancouver Whitecaps out of the playoffs. If Portland, Dallas, and Colorado’s struggles continue, that may not matter, but if any of those teams start to recapture their form, San Jose will need to find another level. Each 90 minutes without a solution is 90 minutes slower to another season outside of the playoffs.

At the same time, Seattle didn’t get many answers, either; not that games like tonight’s could quell their concerns. The Sounders’ problems, on display last week in Foxborough, can’t be solved by a convincing performance against an average team.

In light of that lopsided result, the best they could hope for transpired at CenturyLink. The Sounders got back in the win column.


MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

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Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

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Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)