Steven Lenhart’s late equalizer ended a four-game losing streak for the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, drawing hosts New York Red Bulls 1-1.
The volley in the 85th minute was Lenhart’s first of the MLS season, an overdue reward for his tireless work rate throughout Saturday’s fixture. The goal also redeemed the striker for a handball penalty that put the team behind early in the first half.
The draw gives San Jose their first point since May 25. Lenhart’s goal is only the second for the Quakes in their last five matches.
On any other night, Lenhart would’ve had a brace. But an incredible diving save from New York goalkeeper Luis Robles thwarted a sure-fire Lenhart header late in the first half.
Like they did last week in their 2-1 loss to DC United, San Jose controlled the game for long spells, winning the possession battle despite playing on the road against a New York team known for knocking it around with ease.
San Jose held the highest-scoring team in the Eastern Conference without a goal from open play, but for the second consecutive week were punished for a handball in their opponent’s penalty area.
Unlike last week however, the call was not clear cut, as replays did not conclusively show whether it was Lenhart’s arm or Tim Cahill’s head struck the New York cross.
Chris Wondolowski — never one to keep his feelings to himself — was issued a yellow card after incessant arguing with both the referee and his assistant following the call. It was just one of eight yellow cards issued during the match, with each team earning four apiece.
Bradley Wright-Phillips knocked in the spot kick regardless, giving him his 17th goal of the season, the same number that San Jose have scored as a team in 2014.
Lenhart’s late equalizer came from a botched clearance by New York that fell to Khari Stephenson on the right side of the box.
Stephenson first-timed a low cross that hit a New York defender, only to find Lenhart in the box. Lenhart took a single touch before whacking the volley into the back of the net, stealing the man of the match honors from Robles in the process.
Jason Hernandez played fantastic in his first game since his father’s passing, replacing Clarence Goodson at center-back and making things difficult for the best forward partnership the league has to offer.
The result is an improvement on recent form, though San Jose remains at the bottom of the Western Conference table with 17 points, nine away from the fifth and final playoff spot.
The Red Bulls move past New England for the fourth spot in an incredibly tight Eastern Conference that sees only seven points separating the ninth and third place teams.
San Jose continue their search for their first win in almost two months next week when they host Chicago Fire at 7:30 p.m. at Buck Shaw Stadium.