SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Although four different San Jose Earthquakes were credited with assists Wednesday night, the biggest one of all didn’t show up in the boxscore.
With his team winless in six matches and trailing 1-0 at intermission to a Toronto FC club on an even longer victory drought, San Jose coach Frank Yallop lit into his team, calling them out for a first-half performance completely devoid of the urgency demanded by the situation.
“I meant business when I spoke at halftime,” Yallop said. “It’s my job to make sure they know how I feel. I just said to them, ‘We cannot let games like this slip by, where we don’t give everything we have.’ It was, collectively, a meek performance [in the first half]. And I didn’t accept that.”
The motivational ploy worked exactly as designed. The Quakes came out flying for the second half, finding an equalizer through Adam Jahn after just three minutes and, in the 81st, a game-winner from star Chris Wondolowski to cap a 2-1 victory.
“It doesn’t come often,” Wondolowski said of Yallop’s outburst, “but it comes when it’s needed. And it was needed. It was just great to see it spill over out there on the field.”
Said goalkeeper Jon Busch: “I think it woke us up, which is good. . . .It was very appropriate. We didn’t have energy in the first half, and he got us going. Sometimes you need that kick in the behind.”
Yallop had to draw his line in the sand, given the circumstances. With five of their next six matches on the road, if a triumph couldn’t be found against a Toronto team that came in 1-4-4 and hadn’t won since March 9, the Quakes were in danger of flirting with the club’s franchise-record, 13-game winless streak from 2011.
“We knew we had to take care of business,” Busch said. “For us, this was a must-win game. We’ve been close here the last couple of games, but we knew this was a game [where] we needed three points.”
Even though the Quakes looked like they had taken a step or two back from the quality of their play in their last two matches – a pair of 2-2 ties against Chivas USA and Montreal – getting full marks in the standings helped to make up for those unrewarded performances.
“The way things went the last couple of weeks, this is a little bit of a relief, for us to get off the schneid, and get that win,” Busch said. “Now, maybe we can use this to move forward.”