2012 US Open Cup Quarterfinals: Tempers flare as Sounders escape with 1-0 win over San Jose Earthquakes

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  • June 27, 2012

Photo: Julie Logan | TheJulieLogan.com Copyright 2012, All rights reserved

The San Jose Earthquakes crashed out of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup tournament with a 1-0 loss to the three-time defending champions Seattle Sounders in front of a crowd of 7,219 at historic Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. A first half goal from Sounders rookie midfielder Cordell Cato proved to be the difference for the visitors when the Earthquakes were unable to continue their season of late-game magic and find an equalizing goal.

The win-or-go-home nature of the tournament resulted in a fiercely competitive game, which featured numerous yellow cards to both teams, a straight red card to Earthquakes forward Alan Gordon, and a post game melee resulting from the intense emotions surrounding the match. Forward Chris Wondolowski, who entered as a second half substitute, recognized just how hard each team was going for the victory.

“We’re both good teams this year so there will be a lot of fight and a lot of heart,” said Wondolowski. “You put 22 guys on a small field, a bumpy field, with a referee that let a lot of stuff go, and there’s going to be a lot of fire.”

Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop used everything at his disposal to try to knock off the three-time champions, but the Sounders proved resolute despite the heavy pressure put on them by the San Jose offense.

“You have to give Seattle credit for the way they defended, especially the last 35 minutes,” said Yallop. “We just couldn’t quite get that touch in front of goal. We pushed the issue on what was a difficult pitch and went direct but couldn’t score.”

Facing a setting sun to start the game and field conditions that were far from pristine, the Earthquakes found it difficult to muster up anything on offense early on. It took until the 9th minute for San Jose to find a seam in the Seattle defense. Rafael Baca, with space to work with on the left sideline, carried the ball into the top corner of the area and squared a pass to an onrushing Shea Salinas 15 yards from goal. The Quakes winger had trouble settling the ball and his weakly taken shot was comfortably saved by Sounders goalkeeper Andrew Weber.

The Sounders began to turn the momentum to their advantage over the next quarter hour, and were rewarded for their efforts in the 19th minute when they broke through for the game’s opening goal. A pass across the top of the Earthquakes penalty area was misjudged by defender Ike Opara and fell to the feet of Sounders midfielder Cato. With Justin Morrow stabbing at the loose ball, Cato rounded the Earthquakes defender and drove the ball to the endline. The Sounders rookie’s shot across goal took a slight deflection and managed to sneak the ball through the legs of goalkeeper David Bingham and into the goal for a Seattle 1-0 lead.

“I think we gave the ball away poorly in the midfield which didn’t help,” said Yallop. “We still had a chance to defend it and we didn’t. The shot took a nick off of somebody and it was not easy for the goalkeeper.”

Photo: Julie Logan | TheJulieLogan.com Copyright 2012, All rights reserved

Following an ineffective opening half for San Jose, coach Yallop went to his bench early in the second half in an effort to bolster his offense. Regular first-teamers Wondolowski and Steven Lenhart, along with speedy Marvin Chavez were all inserted into the line-up with an eye toward cracking the resolute Sounders defense. Instead, the frustration mounted for the home side, as they were able to consistently deliver the ball into the Seattle area, but they were not able to create a single shot on goal.

With tempers boiling over and physical play being ramped up a notch or two by both sides as the game dragged toward a conclusion, referee Yader Reyes was required to be more active in keeping the match in control. Yellow card cautions for hard tackles went to Gordon and Morrow for the Earthquakes and Zach Scott, Andy Rose and Marc Burch for the Sounders were all issued in the second half.

As the match entered six minutes of stoppage time, the Earthquakes continued to press for the equalizer in the midst of the chippy play. The 93rd minute saw things come to a boil, as Burch fouled Gordon hard from behind, sending the Quakes forward to the turf and earning Burch his yellow card. However, Gordon then sprang back up and headbutted Burch from behind, leaving San Jose with just 10 men, in an eerily similar meltdown to Zinadine Zidane’s in the 2002 World Cup final.

A throw-in from Steven Beitashour in the 95th minute was flicked toward the mix of players and popped out to the top of area. Defender Victor Bernardez stepped into the loose ball and unleashed a volley that took a deflection off a defender. The Earthquakes claimed a hand ball against Seattle, but the referee did not agree. “It looked a hand ball,” said Yallop. “I thought we had a couple calls that could have gone our way. That’s being diplomatic.”

Wondolowski, who protested vehemently at the time of the disputed play to referee Reyes, was much less diplomatic than his coach.

“The hand ball was very clear,” said Wondolowski. “The defender made a last ditch effort just to save the goal. And it was a good ‘save,’ one that Busch or Bingham would be proud of.”

The match ended a minute later, and the two teams engaged in a significant melee on the field between the two team benches brought about because of a confrontation between Sounders forward Eddie Johnson and Quakes defender Jed Zayner. The latter accused the former of hitting him in the face, but the former had no comment on the incident. Both teams engaged in some pushing and shoving, but eventually separated and went their own ways to their locker rooms. The video replay does show Zayner making contact with Johnson right before the supposed punch.

“There’s always a rivalry between us and Seattle,” said Yallop. “We beat them once this year, and they beat us in the Cup. We’ll play them twice again this year, so we have got to look forward to that.”

While Seattle moves forward in the US Open Cup tournament to the semifinal round, San Jose focuses on a weekend match against rival Los Angeles Galaxy at a sold-out Stanford Stadium this Saturday, June 30.

Seattle Sounders FC at San Jose Earthquakes
June 26, 2012 — Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, Calif.
Attendance: 7,219

Scoring Summary
SEA — Cordell Cato (unassisted) 19

Misconduct Summary:
SJ — Alan Gordon (caution) 49
SEA — Zach Scott (caution) 51
SJ — Justin Morrow (caution) 75
SEA — Andy Rose (caution) 82
SJ — Alan Gordon (ejection) 93
SEA — Marc Burch (caution) 94

San Jose Earthquakes — David Bingham, Steven Beitashour, Victor Bernardez, Ike Opara, Justin Morrow, Rafael Baca (Marvin Chavez 80), Sam Cronin, Tressor Moreno (Steven Lenhart 53), Shea Salinas, Khari Stephenson (Chris Wondolowski 53), Alan Gordon.
Statistics: Total Shots: 7; Shots on Goal: 4; Saves: 4; Fouls: 12; Offside: 3; Corner Kicks: 11.

Seattle Sounders FC — Andrew Weber, Brad Evans, Patrick Ianni, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez, Cordell Cato (Marc Burch 82), Servando Carrasco, Andy Rose, Alvaro Fernadez (Jhon Kennedy Hurtado 89), Roger Levesque, Sammy Ochoa (Eddie Johnson 75).
Statistics: Total Shots: 8; Shots on Goal: 4; Saves: 4; Fouls: 9; Offside: 1; Corner Kicks: 3.


  • Andrew says:

    Eddie Johnson sucker punched Zayner right in front of the stands. It was obvious and brutal. I don’t know what Zayner said to him to provoke it, but regardless Johnson should be fined and suspended.

  • John says:

    RE: Eddie Johnson sucker punch

    Please rewatch the SJ: http://www.ustream.tv/embed/recorded/23593591

    At the 54:00 mark the game ends and in the lower right corner you can see the incident. It’s questionable at the best whether or not Johnson threw a punch while fall back away from Zayner’s shove. That said, Johnson is no saint haven’t gotten into other incidents earlier this season.

  • J.T. Alwin says:

    We’re working on embedding the video on the page, but it sure doesn’t seem like Zayner is as innocent as he claimed to be in his interview. Now that we do have video evidence, this turns from believing Johnson would be handed a multi-game ban to both players likely getting the same punishment, if any is handed out at all.

    I think bad reffing has a lot to do with all this as well, not as in calls for one side or the other, but simply keeping the game under control. He clearly let a lot slide early, and continued to sit on his card book until things were already too far out of hand to be reigned back in.

  • SFQuakeFan says:

    The Ref in this game was very poor at controlling the game. From the very beginning, he let way too many fouls slip by on both teams. All these missed calls led to the Sounders getting away with not only that handball but other gratuitous fouls, that led the Quakes players to become aggravated, which then led to an uncalled headbutt by Gordon and red card. The article fails to say that in the 80th minute Steven Lenhart was “clothes lined” running into the box, which was another failed call. I hope this Ref does not Ref in this league ever again! It was by far one of the most exciting games I’ve seen but one of the most worst reffing ever.

  • Naugh says:

    I too was at the match, and the missed handball in injury time was the final straw after an entire half of poor calls by the referee. It would be one thing if the Sounders had been the better team, but they had little of the ball; and it would have been another thing if a goal had not been called back because of a dubious handball in the first half. But the fact is the ref called back a SJ goal for a handball, and then let a handball in the box go. I should hope that this ref isn’t put in charge of another important game, and that the Sounders realize how lucky they were to get away with this win.

  • Goes two ways says:

    Little reality check, the bad calls went both ways. Weird how earthquake fans forget the missed penalty call in the first half that the Sounders should have gotten. Lenhart flops all the time in the box and there is a reason he has a reputation, prob why the ref didn’t give him any calls. EJ obviously didn’t act professional, but blame goes both ways. Why was EJ pushed first, wait earthquake fans forget that part because they all angels and innocent. The truth hurts and the Sounders deserved this win, karma comes around for making the decision not to move the game to Wednesday because the earthquakes knew Seattle played on Sunday. There are always two sides to every story and neither team is even close to being as innocent as its fans want to believe. Either way, the game probably awoke a sleeping giant and Seattle will like start winning consistently again, so thank you San Jose.

  • Jon Danforth says:

    Amazing away trip, proved those haters dead wrong. We won the USOC title away in 2009, and just beat the tabletopping Earthquakes away to boot. 1906 headhunters came looking for a fight after the game like the pathetic hooligan hipsters they are.

    Lenhart – You’ve got a pineapple on your head, you disgraceful cheating diving bastard

  • Tyler says:

    I was at the game at Kezar. The referee clearly did not have control of the game as tempers started to boil over in the second hald. He allowed players to verbally yell at him and the linesman and this only mad things worse. He did not do his job and shouldn’t get another match until he learns from the mistakes of this game.

    I was also behind the home stands. After the game Johnson runs to the half line facing the home stands and puts his finger to his mouth trying to silence the fans. Instead of going to his bench he started to pound his chest and slap the sounders badge drifting right in front of the San Jose bench. The celebration that he was putting on would have been fine in front of his own fans and bench but he intentionally singled out the san jose bench and kept it up for a minute. The bench players were walking out to the field and johnson kept celebrating in front of them. Zayner confronted Johnson and did initiate contact. The contact was a slight shove that didn’t even cause Johnson to take a step back. Johnosn reacted and violently threw his hands around and connected with both in Zayner’s neck and face. I couldn’t tell if his hands were closed into fists but it was very violent and intentional. Johnson should easily be fined and receive and at least kept out of the finals. It was completely unacceptable and I used to be a fan of Johnson’s for the way he played. What he did on Wednesday night was completely unacceptable and not suitable for a professional with his skill set. Shame on Johnson. . .

  • Michael says:

    I find it amusing that people actually think “clotheslines” or a flailing slap in the eye would actually work to knock a man down. Only in pro wrestling (and apparently) soccer, my friends. (As someone who was there, I find Tyler’s account of the Johnson/Zayner conflagration highly amusing. And when I say “amusing” I mean “exaggerated.”

    BTW, the report missed the side note that the away supporters supplied the National Anthem rendition when the Quakes inexplicably either couldn’t play their recording or simply forgot to bring it.

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