By Melissa McKenzie
Jon Busch did a great job of keeping the San Jose Earthquakes in the match against Sporting Kansas City on March 22, but a lack of offense and handball resulted in a 1-0 loss, the Quakes’ first of the year.
KC’s offense got going early in the match when Seth Sinovic threw the ball into the mix in the 17th minute. Ike Opara’s header was pushed away by Busch and then cleared by Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi’s bicycle kick, but it wasn’t over. The ball dribbled out to Sal Zizzo whose goal attempt got past Busch but hit the post. Opara gathered the rebounds and took a quick shot that ricocheted off the post and out of bounds.,/
Nine minutes later, Sporting was at it again. A Kevin Ellis pass to Benny Feilhaber ended up in Graham Zusi’s footpath. Zusi’s right-footed strike bounced off Busch’s hands and out of bounds.
With no real scoring chances for the Quakes, the teams went into halftime tied at 0-0.
KC got the first real scoring opportunity in the 55 minute when Busch punched Opara’s header over the top of the net. Just a minute later everything would change.
Zusi kicked the ball into a scrum of Opara, Ellis and Aurelien Collin, who were mixed up with Pierazzi, Clarence Goodson and Steven Lenhart. As the ball caromed between them, Lenhart’s hand brushed up against it, resulting in a handball and penalty kick for Sporting.
Dom Dwyer took the try, stutter-stepped and sent a left-footed strike to the left. Busch guessed incorrectly, diving toward the opposite post and, just like that, KC was on the board.
San Jose’s best opportunities came late in the match, the first in the 71st minute when Goodson sent the ball toward the center of the field. His pass was slightly deflected by Lenhart and right into Chris Wondolowski’s footpath. Wondo crushed the ball but it sailed just wide of the goal.
A second golden opportunity came in the 83rd when Wondo was given a free kick from the top of the box. He was able to get it over the line but the ball caught a little too much air and glided just over the crossbar.
The Quakes will host the New England Revolution on March 29 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available through www.sjearthquakes.com.
Quakes Can’t Lose: The Quakes are on a 21-game unbeaten streak in all competitions at home, dating back to opening day 2013 when San Jose lost 2-0 to Real Salt Lake.
Make a Ruckus: The Quakes announced on March 24 that the team has entered into a sponsorship agreement with Ruckus Wireless, Inc. to provide a free, public Smart Wi-Fi network for fans attending games at the new stadium.
Knutsen Signed: The Quakes signed San Francisco native, 21-year-old goalkeeper Billy Knutsen last week. Knutsen recorded 13 shutouts in 37 games between 2012 and 2013 for American University.
Levi’s Unleashed: The Quakes will open Levi’s Stadium on Saturday, August 2 with a game against Seattle Sounders FC. Tickets are on sale at www.ticketmaster.com.
World Cup Sendoff: The United States Men’s National Team will open a three-game FIFA World Cup send-off series against Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park on Tuesday, May 27. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Drink and Dine: The annual Wine and Dine with the Earthquakes event is on Sunday, May 18 at Guglielmo Winery in Morgan Hill. Guests will taste a selection of red and white wines and dine on a buffet provided by Cosmopolitan Catering, as well as participate in a live auction, raffle and grape stomp. Earthquakes players will serve as bartenders. Visit www.sjearthquakes.com to register.
Kicking for a Cause: The fifth annual Corporate Cup is scheduled for Saturday, July 26 in San Jose. The 5-on-5 tournament features teams competing in either the Men’s Corporate, Men’s Open or Co-Ed divisions. Each team is guaranteed at least three games and all proceeds benefit the Earthquakes Community Fund. Visit www.sjearthquakes.com for more information.