A draw that could have been a loss nonetheless felt like two points dropped when a goal by Alan Gordon in the 90th minute allowed San Jose to tie the Crew 1-1 at Buck Shaw Stadium on Saturday and spoil the outstanding efforts of goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum.
Gruenebaum made seven saves, including a penalty kick by Chris Wondolowski in the 22nd minute, and kept the Crew in the match long enough for Justin Meram to score in the second minute of first-half stoppage time for their only shot on target in the game.
“We’re going to take a point and not complain about that, but it’s pretty devastating when you can steal [a win] and fail to do so,” Gruenebaum said.
The Crew’s inexperience showed over the final 10 minutes as they simply could not contain the Earthquakes.
At the end of the match, the Crew (3-4-4) had six players in their third year or less of their professional careers. Of that number, four had played in fewer than 30 games and three of them had less than 15 appearances – Eric Gehrig (14 games), Josh Williams (seven) and Cole Grossman (three).
“We’re unbelievably banged up with injuries right now,” Grossman said. “All that may have contributed to giving up a late goal.”
Grossman replaced high-profile offseason signee Milovan Mirosevic in the midfield to start the second half. Milosevic reportedly suffered an injury, though details were not available immediately after the match.
The Crew entered the game with nine players unavailable due to injuries but had the victory within their grasp.
“Anytime you give up a goal in the last few minutes it feels like two points lost regardless of how the game went before that,” Grossman said. “Maybe when the emotions calm down we can look at it as a point gained.”
Despite running their unbeaten streak to 1-0-2, the Crew was lucky to carry the lead into the break.
San Jose (7-2-3) had a 15-2 shot advantage through 33 minutes, but Gruenebaum came up with four stellar saves to keep the match scoreless until Meram’s lone moment of brilliance – a bending strike from the left of the box that went over goalkeeper Jon Busch and settled into the far corner for his second goal in as many games.
“I saw an opening and took it,” Meram said. “To put your team up on the road is always a good thing. I just wish we got three points heading into Seattle on Wednesday.”