SAN JOSE, California – Despite a red card early in the second half, the Montreal Impact put in a gritty performance in a 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium Wednesday night, thanks to the equalizer by midfielder Kyle Bekker.
The Quakes opened the scoring as the result of some bad luck for IMFC. A slide tackle by Hassoun Camara won the ball away from Quincy Amarikwa, but it squirted free, right on to the foot of Chris Wondolowski, who took advantage of his good fortune to score in the 35th minute.
Despite playing a man down for almost the entire second frame, following Ambroise Oyongo’s ejection in the 49th minute, Kyle Bekker tied things up when he curled a shot from long distance in the 65th minute that fooled ‘Quakes keeper David Bingham short side for his first career goal.
"I'm happy to get my first goal and help the team," said Bekker. "At first I was a little nervous after not having played in a while, but after a few touches I got into a rhythm. I'm just happy to contribute to a big point on the road."
"We had guys who hadn't played together in a while and to go down a goal and then down a man, yet come back and tie this game was a tremendous result," said Impact head coach Mauro Biello. "We came in here with a plan and we are pleased with the point. I believe in this team and all the players that I have. We felt the team we put out there tonight would give us a good chance to get points."
With a packed schedule over the next two weeks, the Impact dipped into its depth pool, giving starts to Eric Miller, a healthy Hassoun Camara, Eric Kronberg and Bekker, playing in a 4-3-3 formation.
"It's even more encouraging that we earned this point having gone into the half down a goal," said Camara. “We want to continue this run of form and play well over our next few games to earn a playoff spot. As for my performance, I remained confident during this long absence and I'm very pleased."
With the revamped lineup, IMFC found some good looks at goal, including a couple of drives from 25 yards out by Bekker and Venegas in the opening 15 minutes.
Wondolowski nearly found his second of the match in the 37th minute, but Kronberg made a spectacular save on his blast from distance that was destined for the top corner.
The Impact will fly back to Montreal on Thursday in preparation for its first of three straight games at Stade Saputo as it continues its push for the playoffs, starting at 8pm, this Saturday versus the New England Revolution, followed by next Wednesday night’s clash with the Chicago Fire (game on April 18 that was postponed), before finally hosting D.C United on Saturday, September 26.
MTL – GK-Eric Kronberg; D-Ambroise Oyongo, Hassoun Camara, Wandrille Lefèvre, Eric Miller; M-Nigel Reo-Coker (Calum Mallace 64’), Kyle Bekker, Eric Alexander (Donny Toia 53’), Dilly Duka, Johan Venegas (Andrés Romero 73’); F-Dominic Oduro
Subs not used: GK-Maxime Crépeau; D-Victor Cabrera; M-Maxim Tissot; F-Anthony Jackson-Hamel
SJ – GK-David Bingham; D-Clarence Goodson, Fatai Alashe, Marvell Wynne, Shaun Francis (Tommy Thompson 89’); M-Anibal Godoy, Marc Pelosi, Matias Perez Garcia (Adam Jahn 78’), Shea Salinas; F-Chris Wondolowski, Quincy Amarikwa (Cordell Cato 78’)
Subs not used: GK-Bryan Meredith; M-J.J. Koval, Leandro Barrera, Sanna Nyassi
SJ – Wondolowski 35’
MTL – Bekker 65’
SJ – Pelosi 75’
MTL – Kronberg 84’
MTL – Oyongo 49’