Sixty minutes into the match and the odds were stacked against them. Facing one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams thus far in 2016 in a stadium they had claimed every point up for grabs to date (3-0-0), the Quakes were down a goal, and more importantly, down a man.
Midfielder Anibal Godoy had just been shown his second yellow card of the match and San Jose seemed up against it. Surely the hill would be too steep to climb, especially without the team’s leader in the center of the pitch.
The red card forced head coach Dominic Kinnear to change from a two-forward formation to one forward, which left an entire third of the pitch for Chris Wondolowski to cover by himself.
But then a pair of second-half substitutes altered the flow of the game. The Quakes were no longer trying to keep within a goal, but rather had plans to erase the deficit altogether. Shea Salinas, who was appearing in his 62nd consecutive game since 2014, made an immediate impact off the bench.
“I thought his work being able to come inside and run at them opened up the game a little bit and it made us more dangerous,” explained Kinnear during his postgame press conference.
Salinas, and later Matias Perez Garcia, played a crucial role for San Jose as late-game additions. The duo revitalized the club and brought a different attacking mentality than was present for the first two-thirds of the match.
No one benefitted more from the additional space than midfielder Simon Dawkins. Dawkins, who moved inside from left wing in Godoy’s absence, had a moment to shine and took it wonderfully. With less than 10 minutes to play, he collected the ball at the top of the box and showed off a bit of individual brilliance.
“It just fell to me at the edge of the box and I was going to shoot, and I sort of hesitated to shoot, and things just opened up for me,” said Dawkins. “Thankfully it went in.”
His nifty footwork allowed him to dribble past a host of Union defenders and drill his left-footed shot just past goalkeeper Andre Blake, who plays alongside Dawkins for the Jamaican National Team.
“We had a conversation at halftime on if I would be able to score,” Dawkins said of he and Blake. “He said I wouldn’t, so it was a good end to the game.”
San Jose has regained a bit of the Goonie magic that helped them claim the 2012 Supporters’ Shield and have now scored in the final 10 minutes in four of their nine games so far this season.