It was in the script all along. San Jose found an equalizer in the dying seconds of the match to rescue a draw against Liga MX side Toluca in the CONCACAF Champions League.Buck Shaw Stadium, the place where late leads go to die. The San Jose Earthquakes threatened for much of the match, but it took a deficit and extra time to kick the Northern California side into gear and record a 1-1 draw with Toluca in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal matchup.
Playing its first competitive game since the end of the 2013 season, San Jose took time to get into a rhythm, and it was the visitors who had the first good chance through Gabriel Velasco, who found time and space in midfield to line up a shot that only narrowly went over the bar.
The Quakes eventually found their feet, however, and San Jose nearly had a goal and a shout for a penalty not long after. Steven Lenhart's header was saved on the line, but looked to have possibly gone off a Toluca player's arm.
Chris Wondolowski failed to convert a golden chance early in the second half, turning Cordell Cato's cross goalwards, but his first-time shot was right into Toluca keeper Alfredo Talavera, who parried the attempt.
Wondolowski did the same with his next close attempt on goal. Lenhart's flicked header from a long throw should have been buried by the American international, but he again put his shot right at Talavera.
Toluca eventually made San Jose pay for its lack of quality in front of goal. Raul Nava pounced on a poor defensive header to launch a stunning volley from the edge of the penalty area past Jon Busch in the 67th minute.
A goalmouth scramble after Lenhart hit the crossbar in the 80th minute nearly gave San Jose an equalizer, but Wondolowski and J.J. Koval both had their panicked kicks pushed away, much to Talavera's relief.
But this was a San Jose Earthquakes match, a place where "down 1-0 in the 95th minute" resembles a bloody steak in a tiger's cage. Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi won the free kick, Shea Salinas lofted it in, and Alan Gordon did the honors, nodding down into Talavera's bottom far corner to equalize seconds before full time.
Toluca will host the crucial second leg on March 18.