The San Jose Earthquakes’ impressive run to the postseason ended not with a bang the way they hoped, but instead with a whimper in the thin Colorado air on Saturday night.
And just the way it ended – with Colorado Rapids defender Kosuke Kimura scoring the game-winner of the Eastern Conference Championship on what was effectively a wishful cross – had the Quakes players stewing after their season petered out in a 1-0 loss at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
“They got the lucky bounce today,” Quakes midfielder Bobby Convey said of Kimura’s 42nd minute winner. “When it’s just a blind cross, you can’t really blame anyone. You almost wish they had scored a good goal so you could say, ‘alright, they beat us.’ But it was a fluke goal, and that was the difference.”
Kimura’s goal was the first in the postseason of his four-year career, but it almost went to Rapids striker Omar Cummings. But the ball whipped in off Kimura’s left foot instead skipped over Quakes defender Jason Hernandez and Cummings and snuck past a surprised Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch, who echoed Convey’s sentiment.
“It’s a little bit of luck,” said Busch, who made two saves on the night. “On a different night, Jason gets that.”
Hernandez said the same of the ball, which dropped near the six-yard box before it skipped in for the winner in front of a euphoric Rapids supporters’ group.
“They scored on a cross,” Hernandez said. “To give up a goal like that, I think it was more fortunate for them and more unfortunate for us than anything else. Rarely do you see crosses go in for goals, but it was almost the perfect play.”
The San Jose defense certainly bent at other times in the match and nearly gave up a second goal on a few chances after the break, but the dynamic duo of Cummings and Conor Casey never found the scoreboard.
“As a defense as a whole, we can hold our heads high and say their two best weapons didn’t beat us tonight, which is what we were focused on,” Hernandez said.
“But (their goal) was just a sign of good things happening to a good team. To give up a goal like that, sometimes you just have to tip your hat and say it wasn’t gonna be for us tonight.”