Despite improved play, San Jose Earthquakes can't find the net in loss to Houston

San Jose had 22 shots in its 1-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo, but still couldn't manage to find the back of the net.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Last week against the New England Revolution, the San Jose Earthquakes by their own account had a disjointed showing, but still managed to emerge with a 1-0 win. This week, the team found itself in the opposite situation, having played well for most of the 90 minutes, only to find itself on the wrong end of a 1-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo.

“I think it was a weird feeling coming off the field in the second half, because we played so well. It didn’t completely feel like a loss, but you look up at the scoreboard and we didn’t get any points out of it,” Earthquakes midfielder Shea Salinas said. “We played well. If we keep playing like that we’re going to win a lot of games. Just tonight they didn’t fall our way.”

The Earthquakes fell behind on an early penalty kick, and although they created plenty of chances at an equalizer, they could only muster four shots on target from a total of 22 attempts.

“I thought the boys played well, especially in the second half. They fell back a little once they got their goal, but that’s the kind of soccer we can play and we’re confident in playing, and maybe on a different night we get a couple goals,” Jon Busch said. "There’s a lot of positives to take out of that game."

Chris Wondolowski, the Earthquakes’ leading scorer for each of the past two years, and the scorer of the lone goal last week, was unable to find the net, a fact which led him to shoulder the brunt of the blame for the team’s loss.

“Honestly, this one’s on me. I had three or four chances where [if] I put that in we win, 3-1,” the 2010 MLS Golden Boot winner said. “I’m a bit disappointed right now in myself, I feel like I let the team down, but I’m proud of the way they played. They fought through 90 minutes and I think that’s why I feel so bad, letting them down.”

However, Wondolowski did feel the team should have been awarded a penalty kick of its own in second half stoppage time. After being clipped by Jermaine Taylor on the edge of the area, Wondolowski took the free kick himself. It deflected off the wall and out for a corner kick, though it appeared to strike the arm of a Houston player, sparking strong penalty appeals.

“Replays will show, his hand’s away from his body, it’s in the box, it was going on frame. He hits it with his hand,” Wondolowski lamented. “[The referee] didn’t want to call it – I don’t know whether it’s because it’s the 90th minute or whether he thought it wasn’t a PK. Evidently he did not, so that sucks.”

Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop backed his player after the game, expressing frustration at the non-call.

“We had a handball that clearly strikes the player’s hand on Wondo’s shot and he doesn’t call it,” he commented. "Frustrating."

Despite the loss, though, the Earthquakes were able to take away plenty of positives from the game heading into next weekend’s trip to Toronto.

Yallop explained, “We created chances, didn’t give them much, we did a nice job on the set plays and we did a nice job defensively as a unit. You’re not going to win games if you don’t score, and we had chances to score.”