Earthquakes end slump with road win over 10-man Rapids in Watson’s coaching debut

StevenLenhart (USA Today)

By JUSTIN FERGUSON

Interim head coach Mark Watson started his time in charge at San Jose with a bang on Saturday evening as the Earthquakes ended their four-match winless streak with their first road win of 2013.

While they usually make their living on late goals, San Jose earned a physical 2-1 victory at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park by jumping out to a quick lead and holding off the attack of a Colorado Rapids squad that refused to cave in after falling behind a man early.

After Steven Lenhart registered his first goal of the season in the 11th minute, the Earthquakes’ chances of three points away from home were boosted by an Atiba Harris red card just minutes later. Sam Cronin later notched a second half goal for the visitors, who spent the last half-hour of the match fending off a tough Rapids attack.

Although he was beaten by a Nathan Sturgis header midway through the second half, goalkeeper Jon Busch was able to secure the gritty win for the Earthquakes with five saves in the final 45 minutes.

The Earthquakes, playing in their first match after the firing of longtime head coach Frank Yallop, started off on the offensive. Following a couple of missed opportunities, Lenhart latched onto the end of a headed pass from Alan Gordon and buried the opening goal.

Before the Rapids could start to piece together a response, they were down a man. Seven minutes after Lenhart’s opener, Atiba Harris was shown a red card for a brutal late tackle on Gordon.

But the ejection seemed to boost the home team’s offense, and the Rapids went right to work on an equalizer. Edson Buddle saw a header just fly over the crossbar, and Dillon Powers forced Busch to make his first save of the evening at the half-hour mark.

Despite being out-shot and largely out-possessed with the man advantage, San Jose grabbed what turned out to be an all-important second goal. Rafael Baca sent Cronin in on goal with a perfectly placed through ball, and the midfielder’s slick overlapping run was capped off with a shot into the dead center of Clint Irwin’s net.

The Rapids finally pulled one back 15 minutes later. Martin Rivero, whose second half substitution proved to be a major shot in the arm for the Colorado offense, opened up space for Brian Mullan. The veteran midfielder then sent a nice cross into the box for a perfect headed goal by Sturgis.

San Jose batted down the hatches after the lead was cut in half, and Busch was able to keep  the three points intact with a trio of crucial saves. His biggest stop came in the 70th minute when a Jaime Castrillon diving header threatened to complete a delightful double for the home team. Busch parried the header and then rushed out to secure it in traffic.

The end of the match was dominated by near misses by Colorado and hard fouls from both sides, the latter being the fuel for some post-match drama. Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja and Watson became involved while players engaged in some shoving—most notably Hendry Thomas and Chris Wondolowski, who each recieved yellow cards for a confrontation early in the second half.

The Watson-led Earthquakes (4-6-6) wrap up their four-match road trip next Saturday at woeful D.C. United. The Rapids (5-5-5), having now suffered their first loss in six matches, hit the road soon for a Wednesday night showdown with the Chicago Fire.

Here are the match highlights:

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4 Responses to Earthquakes end slump with road win over 10-man Rapids in Watson’s coaching debut

  1. ex_sweeper says:

    Watson needs to set an example of self-control for the Quakes, not contribute to their disciplinary problems. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s fined or suspended for a game, not because he kicked the ball particularly hard (it was more of a solid p@ss), but because he clearly did it from pique and it ended up in a shoving match that saw players carded on both sides.

    Encouraging that we were able to score two goals, but the Quakes continue to make criminally poor p@sses from the midfield and wings (Baca’s beautiful p@ss excepted). I’ll give them a bit of a p@ss due to the altitude, but the lack of effort in the second half was obvious.

    • swift says:

      I was pleasantly surprised to see the team playing well together and not in the typical bash brother’s style that has aggravated so many in the league. As for Watson I don’t see anything wrong with a coach having some fire, its exactly what we need when the league feels the need to target our player for DC suspension. We all know Kaval wont! Not to mention did you see Wondo jumping in there, backing he’s coach? That tells me the team is behind Watson and really that all we can ask for with the recent actions of our Baseball Front Office.
      >>>>>>>>>>> FIRE KAVAL!!!! <<<<<<<<<<<<<<

      • chris thebassplayer says:

        Spot on, I’m surprised more Quake fans aren’t focusing on Kaval’s lack of experience and Doyle’s mediocre performance.

  2. chris_thebassplayer says:

    Looked pretty good in the first half, even before the red card. Team shape was good and players were moving off the ball and passing well. Taking the air out of the ball, just keeping a lot of negative possession…beyond patient with the ball. Baca in the middle lends stability, which for the remainder of the season is exactly what we need. Watson stated earlier the need to tighten up the D and keep the ball better without giving it away cheaply via turnovers. So that was positive.

    I’m lukewarm on Martinez, he’s not exactly clean with the ball, pretty loose for a mid. I don’t mind Wondo at mid at all, but Gordon should return to his role as a late game super sub. Nice flick on for Lenny’s goal, but his touch and passing have been atrocious this season…very little from him in combo play or holding up top.

    The second half was a nightmare for the defense. Hernandez in particular really struggled with crosses, but we couldn’t keep possession to keep the heat off the D, so that is still an issue, especially since they were down a man. Hopefully when Bernardez returns he’s paired with Attakora…it’s our only chance to tighten up the D…if we don’t do that nothing else will matter…it’s been a sieve all season…and actually it wasn’t exactly strong last season, it was just masked by all the goals we scored. Hernandez was on fumes last season and Opara wasn’t a viable option. We needed to bring in another high end CB before the season, but we either wouldn’t commit the money or Doyle couldn’t get a deal done…we went low budget, with Harden and Attakora and we’ve paid a dear price