The San Jose Earthquakes lead Major League Soccer in goals scored in the final 30 minutes of regulation and in stoppage time.
They added one of each Saturday to take a 2-1 win over Sounders FC before a sellout crowd of 10,744 at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
The Sounders got a stoppage-time goal of their own when Fredy Montero equalized in the 92nd minute.
However, just seconds from the end of the announced three minutes of added time, Steven Lenhart went high to head in a corner kick from about 7 yards.
The win moved league-leading San Jose’s record to 14-5-5. Seattle (10-6-7) fell to a third-place tie with Vancouver in the Western Conference.
It was the Sounders’ fourth game of the month, following a 120-minute U.S. Open Cup loss by penalty kicks on Wednesday. Given the heavy workload, coach Sigi Schmid went with an unusual lineup – especially up top, where Sammy Ochoa opened as the lone forward, with newcomer Christian Tiffet tucked behind him as an attacking midfielder.
The makeshift lineup stayed even with the Earthquakes in a scoreless match until the 71st minute, when Simon Dawkins returned a loose ball into the Sounders’ net.
A couple of minutes before that, Schmid made the first of his substitutions, sending in Eddie Johnson for Ochoa, who had sent a couple of scoring chances into the crossbar.
Soon after, regulars Mauro Rosales and then Montero checked in.
San Jose’s opening goal was its 28th of the season in the final 30 minutes. The winner was the Earthquakes’ seventh in stoppage time.
On the eve of the match, Schmid was asked about the Quakes’ tendency for late heroics.
“They’re a team that keeps coming at you,” he said. “Their depth has definitely improved, so they have the ability to bring on subs and not detract from the quality of their game. … I think they’ve been able to maintain pressure on teams, because they go into a more direct attack at the end of games. Sometimes they go with the double spearhead up front of Gordon and Lenhart, who do a good job of contesting balls and winning balls, so the ball ends up being in front of your goal a lot. So it’s not by accident. It’s because of their quality, and because of the way that they play at the end of games.”
After their busy schedule, the Sounders finally can look forward to a one-game week. They will return to MLS action Saturday, when Vancouver visits CenturyLink Field. blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer