SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The 2012 Supporters’ Shield winners weren’t quite ready to roll over for one of this year’s leading contenders.
Sam Cronin scored in the first minute of second-half injury time to salvage a 2-2 tie for the San Jose Earthquakes against Eastern Conference leaders the Montreal Impact on Saturday afternoon.
Cronin took one touch off a knockdown header from Chris Wondolowski and lashed a shot home from 20 yards for his first goal of the season. Combined with rookie Adam Jahn’s strike in the 59th minute, the late strike enabled the Quakes to counteract Justin Mapp’s double, his first two MLS goals of 2013.
Montreal (5-2-1) extended their unbeaten streak to three matches, although they coughed up a 2-0 lead and wasted several fine saves by goalkeeper Troy Perkins before limping to the finish.
San Jose (2-3-5) have tied four of the last five matches and are winless in six straight games – their longest stretch since a franchise-record 13-game streak in 2011.
Mapp opened the scoring in the 24th minute with a 30-yard blast that pinged in off the near post, then doubled that total in the 47th with an open tap-in at the far post, set up by Andrew Wenger’s short pass across the face of goal.
The performance capped a stellar week for Mapp, who also nabbed a goal and an assist Wednesday in the Impact’s 6-0 romp over Toronto FC during their Amway Canadian Championship semifinal tie.
But that only set the stage for the latest display of San Jose's famous late heroics. Jahn got one back for the Quakes, completing a sequence that began with passes from Marvin Chavez, Wondolowski and finally Cronin.
Midfielder Walter Martinez and forward Marcus Tracy made their MLS debuts for San Jose in the final half-hour, and it made a difference. Justin Morrow fed a ball back to Martinez in the 91st minute, and it was Martinez’s long ball that Wondolowski knocked down into Cronin’s lap.
Using a 3-4-3 formation out of desperation, San Jose were able to break through again and hang a multi-goal game on Montreal, becoming only the second team to do so this year.
The Quakes were twice denied the game’s opening goal in a bang-bang sequence during the 14th minute. Jahn’s left-footed volley from 17 yards beat Perkins but found the crossbar. Wondolowski reached the rebound with a diving header, but Perkins scrambled up just in time to change directions and make a left-handed reaction save.
It was just one highlight in a first half of many for Perkins, who also turned aside Quakes midfielder Rafael Baca in the sixth and 28th minutes. San Jose defender Nana Attakora pushed a header from an injury-time corner kick just over the crossbar.
Montreal looked certain to net a game-clinching goal in the 71st minute, but Wenger was stoned in a one-on-one confrontation with the hard-charging Busch.
Busch came off his line again three minutes later to break up nice interplay between substitute Sanna Nyassi and Felipe Martins. Finally, Wenger and Mapp couldn’t link up on a sequence that nearly brought the Impact winger a hat trick.