All season long, San Jose have battled. On Thursday against New York, it wasn’t going to be any different.
Down 1-0 in the aggregate score, the Quakes fought to come out of their Eastern Conference semifinal second leg with a shock 3-1 defeat of the Red Bulls, winning the series 3-2 on aggregate to advance to the conference championship.
“We just battled and I loved it,” San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch said after the match. “It’s the story of my life.”
Despite taking 23 shots, the Red Bulls only got five attempts on target. And while Busch gave the credit to the defenders – “the guys did a hell of a job blocking long-range shots” – the Quakes ‘keeper also came up big a couple of times.
In the 33rd minute, Busch left his line to punch the ball away before New York’s Juan Pablo Angel could get his head on it. Then, in the 60th minute, Busch blocked a point-blank shot from Mehdi Ballouchy with his foot.
With the win, the Quakes became just the second team to overcome a conference semifinal first-leg deficit since the current format was introduced in 2003.
“For us it’s just a mentality,” said Busch. “We don’t care where we play. Whether it’s home or on the road. We actually enjoy a challenging game on the road – and we did it again tonight.”
Bobby Convey opened the scoring for San Jose in the sixth minute and doubled their lead in the 76th. But the Red Bulls came roaring back with a 78th minute strike by Ángel to level the series at two goals apiece.
Convey, however, again rose to the occasion, serving a cross into the area that Golden Boot-winner Chris Wondolowski headed home to ice the series.
“We get that early goal, and I think it rattled them a bit,” Busch said. “We get that second goal, and you think we’re in good shape, and then they come down and get one back right away. [But] credit to us, [we] didn’t put our heads down. We just keep fighting.”
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