New additions Simon Dawkins and Mauro Rosales impress.SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders FC played out a highly entertaining draw on a balmy northern California night, much to the delight of the near-capacity Buck Shaw Stadium. Seattle twice took the lead, first through Brad Evans and then O'Brien White, but each time the Earthquakes responded. Simon Dawkins hit one and then Khari Stephenson unleashed an absolute belter.
Dawkins' goal represented an end to Chris Wondolowski's run of scoring the Earthquakes previous 12 regular season goals, while Seattle started to show glimpses of what the team can do without Blaise Nkufo and with Fredy Montero out injured.
The match kicked off at a frantic tempo, and a clever one-two between Simon Dawkins and Chris Wondolowski was foiled only by Dawkins' heavy touch, allowing Kasey Keller to collect.
Seattle was equally quick to press on in the Earthquakes' end and Jon Busch was forced into a great point-blank save on Steve Zakuani after some good work from Osvaldo Alonso.
Mauro Rosales, starting for the first time in Seattle colors, missed a great chance to put the Sounders up on the break, but redeemed himself minutes later by setting up his team's opener. The former Ajax man cleverly cut down the right hand side of the box and sent a square ball in to the onrushing Brad Evans, who easily finished.
Naturally, the Sounders were more content to sit back after the goal, but were aided by San Jose's struggles to connect on crosses, giving away possession too cheaply.
Nonetheless, San Jose continued to press on for the equalizer and found it in the 32nd minute. A well-worked exchange Johnson and Bobby Convey saw Convey play a perfect slide-rule pass to expose a weak link in the Seattle backline and Simon Dawkins finished perfectly past Keller.
The Earthquakes looked content to slow it down after the goal and probe cautiously, not wanting to risk exposure by Seattle's speed and trickery on the break. However, it took one spell of possession from Seattle to change the course of the game. After some hard work from Osvaldo Alonso, the Cuban found Zakuani on the left who pinged in a cross for O'Brien White to connect on the diving header and restore Seattle's lead.
San Jose were not content to wait until halftime to regroup, as Chris Leitch slid in a perfect through ball to Joey Gjertsen, who had his shot brilliantly saved by Keller, who singlehandedly kept Seattle with the advantage throughout the half.
Both coaches opted to go for the bench at halftime, with Khari Stephenson replacing Gjertsen for the home side and Sigi Schmid sending on Alvaro Fernandez for Erik Friberg.
The Earthquakes pressed through the first minutes of the half and soon found themselves with the equalizer. Khari Stephenson won the ball near the center of the field, found a gap in the Sounders midfield and launched an absolute rocket at goal from 35 yards, leaving Keller with no chance.
Stephenson nearly had the go-ahead goal minutes later as Convey fed him from a quick free kick, but the Jamaican international could not put his shot on frame. Referee Edvin Jurisevic continued to draw the ire of the home fans when he refused to call a foul as Wondolowski appeared to be tripped while bursting into the area.
Both coaches opted for their benches once more to revitalize a game that was in danger of petering out. The Sounders went for a stronger option up front with Nate Jaqua replacing O'Brien White, while Ike Opara replaced Chris Leitch as San Jose changed their defensive look.
Opara's entrance nearly changed the complexion in the 74th minute after he rose up to meet Convey's corner, putting it just wide. The fresh legs revitalized both teams, and Opara nearly made the difference on the other end, heading straight to Jaqua just on the edge of the area, only to stick his leg out and deflect the ensuing shot behind.
After Opara's near-gift to the Sounders, neither team looked particularly eager to risk losing the points, though San Jose offered a little more in front of a lively home crowd.
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