Ryan Johnson slotted away a penalty to give San Jose a 1-0 win over the New York Red Bulls.
With this victory, San Jose goalkeeper Joseph Cannon earned his third shut-out this year.
For New York, who have yet to snag a win on the road this campaign, the loss blemishes a late-season resurgence. They were unbeaten in four of their five previous matches.
San Jose created a good chance five minutes into the first half. Andre Luiz curled a corner kick into the box and forward Ryan Johnson won the header at the top of the penalty box. Johnson drove the header into the ground and sent it bouncing over New York’s backline. San Jose center back Brandon McDonald jumped and headed the ball over goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul. The ‘keeper did well to get a hand on the ball and swat it away at the last second.
In the 10th minute, the Earthquakes had another look at goal. Left winger Bobby Convey collected a loose ball in New York’s midfield and fired toward goal. His low, swerving shot was on target, but Coundoul read it well and made the save.
With a quarter of an hour gone, the Red Bulls finally put together a good attacking sequence. Midfielder Dane Richards dribbled up the flank, got around right back Ramiro Corrales, and cut the ball back to teammate Juan Pablo Angel. The striker drilled a shot to the far post, but saw it deflected away by a defender.
In the 20th minute, San Jose forward Arturo Alvarez received a pass at the top right of New York’s 18-yard box. Alvarez fired a low and powerful shot to the near post, but Coundoul got down and blocked the shot.
San Jose continued to pressure New York’s defense, and in the 23rd minute their efforts paid off. Alvarez dribbled into the box, and as he tried to slip between two defenders, New York left back Jeremy Hall pulled him down from behind. The referee immediately pointed to the spot.
Ryan Johnson stepped up to take the penalty kick, and slotted the ball into the right side of the goal after sending Coundoul the wrong way. It was Johnson’s tenth goal of the season.
The Earthquakes had one more good chance in the first half, after Coundoul spilled a cross sent into New York’s area by Alvarez. San Jose right winger Chris Wondolowski sprinted in for the rebound, but fired his shot directly at the ‘keeper.
The first half ended with San Jose holding a 1-0 lead over New York.
Though he had been subdued in the first 45 minutes, New York’s Juan Pablo Angel came out in the second half looking extremely dangerous. Within five minutes he had two very good chances on goal.
In the 48th minute, Red Bulls left midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic sent a clever diagonal pass behind McDonald. Angel ran onto the ball and fired off a shot. Cannon had done well to come out to force the quick shot, and Angel’s effort flew over the crossbar.
Two minutes later, Angel picked up a pass from teammate Seth Stammler and drilled a shot from the top of the box to the left corner of goal. Cannon just managed to block the shot.
In the meantime, Earthquakes center back McDonald picked up a knock and had to be subbed off. Since the other available first choice center back, Andre Luiz, had to be replaced in the first half after getting injured, San Jose now had to finish the match with a makeshift central defense.
Just after the hour mark, Red Bulls striker Macoumba Kandji suddenly came to life after a quiet game. He showed good individual skill, dribbling speedily up the right and whipped a precise cross into the box. Angel got on the end of it and shot on goal, but couldn’t get through the San Jose backline.
As the final minutes of the match ticked away, Alvarez continued to terrorize New York’s defense. In the 90th minute, the attacker went on a mazy run, dribbling around defenders, and fired a quick shot on goal from the top of the 18-yard box. Coundoul showed great reflexes to make the save.
Despite creating some good chances in the second half, New York could not find a way through the Earthquakes defense. The match ended with San Jose defeating the Red Bulls, 1-0.
"It was a great 1-0 win if you like," San Jose coach Frank Yallop said. "We showed all the character and the commitment that any team should show at home. It's not easy winning 1-0, especially when the game's on a bit of a knife edge, and when the other team's dangerous and got some good players."
"I thought for the most part it was an even game," said New York coach Richie Williams. "I think it's unfortunate that the game was decided on the wrong call by the referee on the penalty kick. You see the replay, you see the player wasn't fouled, and falls down, and to lose the game on that call is a bad feeling. We're disappointed.”
New York (4-18-6, 18pts) remain on the bottom of the Eastern Conference table, with the fewest points in the league. They have a short break, and then go on the road to face Real Salt Lake on October 14.
San Jose (7-12-7, 28pts) are at the bottom of the Western Conference table, but still have an outside chance at the playoffs. They stay at home and face FC Dallas on Wednesday.
Jennifer Dawson, Goal.com
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