Anyone on the San Jose roster admitted disappointment Wednesday at not being able to complete the transformation of a two-goal deficit into a victory against Real Salt Lake in their U.S. Open Cup qualifying match.
But for goalkeeper Jon Busch, losing to RSL in a penalty-kick shootout hurt on a more personal, visceral level.
“It’s like Groundhog Day for me,” Busch said after giving up goals to all five RSL shooters in a 5-3 PK loss. “Just a few months ago, it feels like, you know? As [former Red Sox pitcher] Pedro Martinez said back in the day, the Yankees were his daddy. Maybe Salt Lake’s my daddy on penalty kicks.”
Busch’s sense of déjà vu stemmed from his last MLS appearance, in the 2009 Eastern Conference championship. Real Salt Lake won that match in PKs, too, topping the Fire 5-4 and bouncing them from the postseason at Toyota Park.
Busch, who made three top-notch saves just to get the Fire into OT, couldn’t come up with another stop during the shootout. RSL missed twice, but both shots were off frame.
The same held true Wednesday. Busch was unable to prevent Will Johnson, Kyle Beckerman, Robbie Findley, Robbie Russell and Andy Williams from converting.
“I read the first two well, I just couldn’t get close enough to them,” Busch said. “I had a little info from [Earthquakes goalkeeper coach Jason] Batty on where [Beckerman] went last time, which was to the keeper’s right. Unfortunately, he went to my left this time. When I went through this in the semifinals against them, I knew a couple of them wanted to go up the middle, so I made it a point not to go early this time, thinking that they may try it again. But they took them well.
“It’s a tough situation," he continued. "Sometimes you get lucky and you get close enough to them and other times you don’t.”
Busch made his Quakes debut after signing with the team two weeks ago; San Jose snapped him up on the cheap after Chicago released him on the eve of the season. But it wasn’t the result Busch was seeking.
“Unfortunately, we made three mistakes and they punished us three times,” Busch said. “We’ve got to be better and cut those mistakes out, because offensively, we’re a good team. We’re going to get our goals. You get three goals, you should win a game, bottom line.”
Busch is expected to be back on the bench Saturday, giving way to regular No. 1 Joe Cannon as the Quakes return to their MLS schedule and host New England.
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @sjquakes.