The Quakes emerged the controversial victors of a hard-fought 1-0 affair against visiting Sporting Kansas City at Avaya Stadium Sunday afternoon.
The match came down to a tale of two penalty decisions — one that got the call, and another that didn’t.
When Sporting KC center forward Dom Dwyer fell down hard in the box in the 55th minute, a shroud of silence swept over Avaya as the crowd awaited the whistle for a penalty kick. It never came.
Sporting coach Peter Vermes had no doubt in his mind that the penalty should have been called:
“100 percent penalty and red card. It changes the game. That doesn’t get called, other things are going to happen in a game after that.”
Vermes called into question the logic of the call:
“Normally when players are going one v. one with a keeper and they have the ball and they’re ready to shoot, they don’t dive.”
San Jose coach Dom Kinnear said:
“From my thought and where I was sitting it looked like a penalty to me. Red card, I’d have to make that decision after watching the replay because there’s traffic in front of you. But from what I saw, it looked like it could’ve been called.”
With Sporting players still protesting the no-call, the Quakes launched a counter attack, and in the 58th minute, second-year midfielder Fatai Alashe went down in the other box. Only this time, the whistle did blow.
Chris Wondolowski continued his torrid goal scoring pace by easily slotting home a penalty kick, tallying his 117th goal of a sparkling goal scoring career.
“It’s a 12-yard shot with a one-on-one with the keeper. You should make it and that’s always been my philosophy.”
Scoring was at a premium, but there was no shortage of excitement. The teams tallied 15 shots combined in a scoreless first half and 22 for the game.
Physicality was on display as regular bumpers Quincy Amarikwa of San Jose and Sporting KC’s Roger Espinoza were constantly involved in scraps for loose balls and free headers. Despite a first-minute yellow card, the referees allowed the two sides to play physical soccer.
One such occurrence came early, nearly 10 minutes into the match. Quincy boxed out a couple of Sporting defenders to keep in play was really just a speculative through ball. Once he brought the ball down, Amarikwa went to work, twice going down to the turf to get off touches. The crowd signaled approval, but attacking midfielder Simon Dawkins was unable to get his shot on goal.
Sporting was the sharper of the two sides in the first half, accruing 10 of the game’s 15 shots and a few near clear chances in the box. Leading the charge was United States World Cup Veteran midfielder Brad Davis who was firing countless crosses in dangerous places.
“We tried to send a message to the guys before the game saying this is a team that when the whistle blows they’re ready to play. You can’t feel yourself into the game. You have to be ready to play right away. At times we were a little bit too casual and they were taking advantage of that.”
Davis also challenged on a free kick just after the half-hour mark, which teasingly curled mere inches wide. Early in the second half, Davis would challenge again off a free kick, this time launching a ball inches high of the top right corner.
The best chance of the first half came a few minutes prior to Davis’s set piece. US international and 2015 MLS MVP contender Benny Feilhaber threaded the needle with a chipped through ball that landed perfectly on center forward Dom Dwyer’s head. Dwyer headed towards the corner of goal but San Jose’s rising star goalkeeper David Bingham pulled off a highlight save diving full-out across goal to tip the shot out for a corner.
Bingham saw the play unfold:
“When the ball’s coming across like that you know someone’s generally going to put a head on it, so you have to get there and get ready.”
Sporting KC pushed forward late in the second half, desperate for a road equalizer. In the 80th, Davis ran onto a through ball and his cross looked on target until veteran Honduran center back Victor Bernardez dove in to head clear.
San Jose usually doesn’t put crooked numbers on the scoreboard, so protecting leads will be vital this season. Even without star veteran United States international center back Clarence Goodson in the lineup (back), they were able to hold firm and earn three big points at home.
“It feels like a special season. With this locker room and the guys, you get these special feelings. You really did in 2012. We can do some big things this year.”
With the victory, the Earthquakes (4-2-2) pass Sporting (4-4-0) in the standings, moving San Jose into a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference. San Jose takes the pitch next on April 30 at Talen Energy Stadium against Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union (4-3-0).