The San Jose Earthquakes put in their most competent performance of the season. Which is why failing to grab all three points yesterday was perhaps the most frustrating experience of the year.
Despite dominating the entire match, Los Terramotos could never fully overcome an early own goal by Dan Benton, and had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Buck Shaw Stadium Saturday afternoon. All three new signings for San Jose looked impressive, and indeed it was new striker Scott Sealy's shot which set up fellow newcomer Darren Huckerby with a simple tap-in to level the match in the 13th minute.
While the Quakes threatened on numerous occasions throughout the rest of the match, the ball could never seem to find it's way past former Earthquakes 'keeper Jon Conway, who had a strong match for New York.
Now, let's take a long at Sean's famous player ratings (for reference, 6 is average/good, with 7 being great, and anything higher being excellent. 5 is bad, with anything lower being disappointing at least.)
Joe Cannon: 6
Wasn't forced into making tons of great saves as usual tonight, but Cannon did his job when called upon. A solid performance from Cannon, though there is some question as to how much fault Joe was at on the own goal. Perhaps he was out of position, though perhaps it was really all done by...
Eric Denton: 4
Well, let's just say it was a bad, no, awful match for the former Santa Clara University defender. The own goal early on seemed to really rattle his confidence, and any time the ball went near him in our end, the entire stadium seemed to quickly devolve into a state of nervousness. Rightfully, Frank Yallop had seen enough and subbed Denton out at halftime. Sorry Eric, but it looks like you have played yourself out of the starting left back spot.
Nick Garcia: 7
Had a nice little game for himself at center back. Won some critical challenges, and was not afraid to mix things up with the Red Bull attackers. This is what I would want to see from one of the team leaders
Ryan Cochrane: 6
To be honest, I barely noticed that Cochrane was on the field today, which I suppose is not a bad thing when you're playing in defense.
Darren Huckerby: 7
Brilliant stuff from Hucks today. The goal wasn't an incredible quality shot or run, but he did well to get himself in position for it. Darren made numerous opportunities for himself with his runs, and put in some threatening balls that perhaps should have been finished. My only complaint for Huckerby had to be the fact that many of his balls were just a tad off, but next week I expect more of the same.
Ronnie O'Brien: 6
Fine performance as usual from the Irishman, though Ronnie didn't create quite as much in the attack as I would expect. Ended up drifting quite a bit into the center of midfield, where he was actually fairly productive.
Francisco Lima: 7
For my money, Lima was the man of the match yesterday. Francisco sent in plenty of excellent balls to the forwards, held the ball in the attacking end numerous times, and fulfilled his responsibility in defense. With Lima in midfield, we played the most beautiful football I've seen from the Quakes all season. When Yallop removed Lima in the 84th minute, all of the attacking pressure we had seen from San Jose in the second half suddenly disappeared.
Ramiro Corrales: 7
An excellent match from Ramiro yesterday. Corrales and Lima in the center of midfield make for one hell of a team. While his play was not quite the same caliber as Lima's, Corrales did a fine job both in attack and in defense.
Ryan Johnson: 6
Johnson once again proved why he's a starter for this team, yet he also showed why we still have a problem scoring goals. On one hand, his incredible hustle and determination won some excellent challenges to put himself and his teammates in dangerous scoring position. On the other hand, Johnson had tons of chances on goal, and could not finish a single one. In addition, Johnson also made some questionable decisions, taking chances himself when other teammates were in much better positions to shoot.
Jason Hernandez: 7
Another good match from Hernandez. Won some crucial challenges in the back, and did a great job in clearing the ball. Did not seem to have much trouble in defense today.
Scott Sealy: 7
Set up Huckerby's goal by doing exactly what he is known for: Holding the ball with his back to goal, and creating something on the turn. While Sealy perhaps could have put away a couple more of his chances, overall Scott looked threatening and did well for the most part yesterday.
Ivan Guerrero: 6
Wasn't notable for the most part yesterday, though he did show some nice signs of the expanded attacking threat the Earthquakes would have with him at left back. With any luck, he should take that starting spot away from Denton.
Shea Salinas: n/a
As a rule, I do not rate players that were subbed in past the 75th minute. Shea had a strong performance though.
Jovan Kirovski: n/a
So in the end, another moral victory, another failure to win. While it is great that San Jose is playing much better looking soccer, and is starting to control games instead of being controlled, there still exists the glaring lack of scoring. While I think that this will improve even without any new additions to the team, clearly something has to be done.
Up next Sunday is yet another visit from David Beckham and the Los Angeles Scum of the South at McAfee Colosseum in Oakland. Will San Jose redeem itself after June's 3-0 drubbing?
Can the Quakes shake off their Colosseum curse? How will the new boys fare in their first taste of the biggest rivalry in MLS? Can anyone defend Edson Buddle this time? Tune in next week and find out for yourself.
*Note* This is the third time I have had to write this article, hence the extremely late publishing. For various reasons, I've had my article deleted twice before.