Photo credit: @SJEarthquakes
By Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE, Calif. — A pair of controversial calls in the second half were too much for the San Jose Earthquakes, fighting for their playoff lives, to overcome in a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday night at Avaya Stadium.
The loss is the fourth in a row for San Jose and continued a winless September. They are on the outside looking in as they currently sit in eighth place in the Western Conference with 44 points, one point behind FC Dallas and Portland, who are currently tied for the seventh and final playoff spot with only two games remaining in the season.
The Quakes were without the services of two of their top players, Chris Wondolowski and Cristian Espinoza, as they were both suspended for the match after getting ejected in their last match against Atlanta United FC. It was also the second time this season they were without their head coach Matias Almeyda, who was also ejected from the match last week.
San Jose (13-14-15) went with a 4-4-2 lineup with Danny Hoesen and Vako serving as the main strikers.
The Quakes drew first blood in the 35th minute when Guram Kashia sent a ball into the box that Hoesen chased down to the middle of the end line. He then fed a pass between the legs of Jack Elliot to an on-running Jackson Yueill, who one-timed the ball passed Union goalkeeper Andre Blake into the back of the net for his third goal of the season.
Carlos Fierro came very close to giving San Jose a 2-0 advantage in the 41st minute when he was all alone to the right of the box when Blake came out to challenge Fierro and made a point-blank save that ricochet back to the goal, but was calmly swept away by Elliot.
Philadelphia’s (16-9-7) best chance to score in the first half came early on in the 16th minute. Marco Fabian’s shot from the left side of the box was stoned away by Quakes goalkeeper Daniel Vega.
The first of the two controversial calls came at the start of the second half. An offsides call on Hoesen took away a goal from the Quakes in the 46th minute. After a pretty give-and-go between Hoesen and Yueill just outside the box, Yueill’s shot was saved by Blake. Magnus Eriksson cleaned up the rebound in what he thought was his seventh goal of the season. However, Union head coach Jim Curtin challenged the call and won to the dismay of the Avaya faithful.
Philadelphia scored the equalizer in the 70th minute when Ramon Gaddis dribbled in from the right side and while falling down serviced a ball back into the middle of the box where captain Alejandro Bedoya needed all but three touches before firing a shot back towards the left side of the goal for his fourth goal of the season.
The Union struck again six minutes later to snatch the lead away when substitute Fabrice-Jean Picault centered a ball from near the left sideline into the middle where Kacper Przybylko had inside position on Kashia, and was able to head the ball into the back of the net for his team-leading 15th goal and the eventual game-winner.
Once again, San Jose was on the wrong end of a controversial call late in the match. Aurelien Collin dragged down Andres Rios near the end line in the 80th minute that referee Baldomero Toledo initially ruled a penalty on. However, after the video review, the penalty call was overturned despite evidence to the contrary.
Despite having seven minutes of stoppage time, the Quakes couldn’t score the equalizer and were left wondering “what if?” as time expired in the match and possibly their season.
GAME NOTES: Union defender Kai Wagner was issued a yellow card in the seventh minute after pushing down Eriksson from behind. In the 23rd minute, Quakes midfielder Judson was issued a yellow card for his sliding tackle attempt on Fabian. Both Haris Medunjanin was issued a yellow card in the first minute of stoppage time in the first half for unsportsmanlike conduct. Przybylko received a yellow card in the 57th minute for unsportsmanlike conduct against Florian Jungwirth.
Corner kicks: San Jose–6, Philadelphia–6
Offsides: San Jose–6, Philadelphia–1
Wondo sat in the stands alongside the San Jose Ultras, the superfan group that sits in the south endzone during every game.
Yueill’s goal snapped a three-game streak where San Jose had conceded the first goal of the match.
UP NEXT: San Jose plays its final home game of the season on Sunday, September 29 against the Seattle Sounders at 4:15 pm at Avaya Stadium.