Saunders saves NYCFC in scoreless draw vs Quakes

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

Josh Saunders’ four saves were barely enough for New York City FC to gain a point in a scoreless draw with the San Jose Earthquakes Friday night at Avaya Stadium.

Saunders quickly closed on the Earthquakes’ attackers, challenging them to keep their composure. Chris Wondolowski, Anibal Godoy and Darwin Quintero all failed to do so, missing gilt-edged chances created by NYCFC’s sloppy defending. Their mistakes went unpunished and The Pigeons earned their 37th point, matching their 2015 total with ten matches left in the regular season.

City failed to capitalize off of a fast start and the Earthquakes found their way into the game. Darwin Quintero dribbled past Frédéric Brillant with ease but Josh Saunders blocked his finish with aggressive goalkeeping. Marvell Wynne’s misplay allowed Frank Lampard an opportunity at the near post but David Bingham rose to the ocassion.

NYCFC’s midfield collapsed despite having a 3v2 advantage. Andrea Pirlo dropped deep to create chances but occupied Andoni Iraola’s space thus limiting his options to diagonal balls and passes through or over the Earthquakes’ midfield. The hosts soon assumed control off of the missed passes and created chances through their wide play but Chris Wondolowski’s misses sent San Jose to its third consecutive draw.

Not to be outdone, Steven Mendoza failed to finish twice in the final ten minutes. Lampard played Mendoza in on goal but Bingham rushed out to block the shot. Six minutes later, David Villa forced a turnover and played Mendoza through but the finish went well wide of the far post.

NYCFC carry a four-point lead in the Eastern Conference ahead of the rest of this weekend’s matches. They will face Columbus Crew SC next Saturday at Mapfre Stadium. Crew SC entered play ninth in the Eastern Conference with 19 points. The Aug. 14 match kicks off at 7:30 pm.