CONCACAF: San Jose 1 Toluca 1
The 2014 CONCACAF championship started with a bang. San Jose Earthquakes and Toluca squared off in the first semi final match to a score of 1-1. While the score would lead one to believe the game was a snoozefest, it was anything but.
San Jose started out on the wrong side of the possession battle, maintaining only 31 percent of the total time. In a very physical match, Toluca pushed the MLS squad all over the pitch, despite not scoring any goals. The back and forth battle continued till over an hour into the match.
Toluca striker Raúl Nava made the first score on a beautiful boot. When San Jose was unable to properly clear a pass, Nava took advantage and went one on one with goalkeeper Jon Busch. Nava's shot curved into the top left part of the goal and destroyed the San Jose fan base's morale.
Twitter instantly exploded with comments like, “Here we go again” and “MLS teams always get overwhelmed in the #ccl”. This response was kind of sad to see and things didn't get better for the quakes.
Chris Wondolowski and the rest of the attackers failed to finish a number of shots. While Toluca continued to pressure a scattered back four, the Earthquakes held. The threat was there throughout the match, but neither club cashed in. Then something odd happened.
During the 88th minute, Twitter came to life with tweet after tweet containing the motto #neversaydie. San Jose fans were still supporting their team in their darkest moment and were rewarded with a miracle.
In the 95th midfielder Shea Salinas lined up for a free kick. Everyone in the stadium held their breath as he launched the ball high into the air. In a split second, Alan Gordon jumped up to head the ball just inside the left goalpost. Everyone erupted into cheers and the referees blew the final whistle two minutes after.
This was a great result for San Jose, but also showed a definite weakness in terms of offense. Wondolowski had many opportunities and will have to finish more of those as the season rolls on.