In the past, a scoreless draw on the road might have instigated a raucous Earthquakes celebration.
On Saturday, after tying host New England 0-0, San Jose felt like it was good enough to secure the full prize.
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“I think it’s good to get a point on the road, but we came in here looking for three points,” San Jose center back Bobby Burling said. “We were looking for another win.”
Instead, San Jose had to settle for now being unbeaten in all but one of their last six matches. The Quakes (4-2-1) also elbowed their way into a tie for second place in the Western Conference alongside Houston and Salt Lake at 13 points.
“We came in at halftime and we said, ‘We’re matching them and probably outplaying them a little bit, so still push it and try to win the game,’” San Jose coach Frank Yallop said. “On another night we would have scored a goal and maybe got away with it.”
Burling had the Quakes’ best chance of the day, finishing a 68th-minute sequence that began with Joey Gjertsen back-heeling a Revs clearance to midfielder Andre Luiz, who used a similar move to feed a pass to Burling’s chest.
The ball dropped to Burling’s feet, but his shot ricocheted off the left shoulder of a charging Burpo. When he looked up, he saw Wondolowski on his right, arms down and palms out in the international sign of “pass me the ball” supplication.
Burling said he spotted Wondolowski out of the corner of his eye, but with the play unfolding so quickly and not knowing if Wondolowski would be considered onsides, he decided to pull the trigger.
“I think I owe Wondo lunch or dinner after I should have laid that one off there in the end,” Burling said on CSN California. “I got defender vision there and just wanted to blast it. I started licking my chops a little too soon.”
The Quakes had some other chances shortly before Burling’s try. Ryan Johnson was set free by a lead pass from Chris Leitch in the 63rd minute, only to find Burpo meeting him at the edge of the penalty area, where he made a sliding deflection.
Four minutes later, Burpo dove to his left to turn aside Johnson’s snap header off a bouncing feed from Gjertsen.
“I think when you have your chances that we had tonight (and don’t win) it is kind of disappointing, but this team, I don’t look at it as a good or bad thing,” Quakes goalkeeper Joe Cannon said. “We look at it as a performance where we gave everything. A point on the road is never a disappointing or negative result. We’re going to get points at home and we’re not going to give them away on the road. These guys are mature enough to know that sometimes it comes off and you get a couple of goals and sometimes it doesn’t. Tonight was just a case where we were a little unlucky in front of goal.”
San Jose had some good fortune in their own end, however, when Joseph Niouky’s 35-yard blast in the 61st minute, which beat Cannon, banged hard off the left post.
“It’s one of those things, on a different night, that might go in,” Cannon said. “But I think this team works hard, and those are the kind of breaks that we’ve been working hard in training to get.”
In other words, it’s a result that does nothing to dent the confidence of the Quakes, who travel to Seattle next weekend for a second consecutive road game.
“I think to come on a cross-country flight, play a team with its back up against the wall on a turf field and come out 0-0, is a great performance for us,” center back Jason Hernandez said. “Obviously, we would have liked to get three points, but I’m sure they can say the same thing. We’re glad to leave with a point. It’s good enough for us. We’re happy with it.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. On Twitter: @sjquakes