COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (AP) – There was no celebration after the game for Earthquakes interim coach Mark Watson. San Jose’s players prefer waiting for something a bit bigger.
Sam Cronin scored the winning goal in the 52nd minute and the Earthquakes beat the Colorado Rapids 2-1 on Saturday night to give Watson his first win.
“We’ll wait for something bigger, like a playoff win, but there will be one,” San Jose midfielder Chris Wondolowski said.
But there were some fireworks between Watson and Rapids coach Oscar Pareja as the two walked off the field following a testy game that featured a red-card ejection.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game,” said Watson. “But the results were good.”
Neither coach would discuss their postgame conversation, but Pareja wouldn’t deny that it had something to do with the red card to Rapids leading scorer Atiba Harris in the 18th minute.
“We’ll keep it between us,” said Watson.
Colorado played the final 72 minutes without Harris, who was ejected for sliding into Alan Gordon. Gordon was on the ground when Harris slid into his right leg.
“I’ll have to look at the film before commenting on the play,” Pareja said. “I can say we were frustrated by our play in the first half, but played better a man down in the second half.”
Steven Lenhart scored his first goal of the season in the 11th minute to give San Jose a 1-0 lead, ending a two-match scoreless drought. The Earthquakes, shut out in their last two games, had scored only 13 goals in their first 15 games this season.
Watson replaced Frank Yallop after San Jose’s 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on June 1. The Earthquakes (4-6-6) had only one win in their previous 11 matches and were 0-5-2 on the road under Yallop.
“He did a great job coming in here and commanding our locker room,” Wondolowski said. “It was a bit similar to the way it was, but it was a great mix.”
Nathan Sturgis scored in the 67th for Colorado (5-5-5), which snapped a six-match unbeaten streak. The Rapids were 3-0-3 in that span.
Neither team had a shot on goal before Lenhart outraced the defense for the ball a few strides past midfield. He drilled the ball from just outside the box into the upper right corner of the net past Clint Irwin to make it 1-0.
The Rapids had their first scoring chance in the 30th minute when Dillon Powers put a shot into the breadbasket of Busch for a save. Deshorn Brown had a follow up shot, but sailed a header over the crossbar.
Cronin extended the lead with his second goal of the season, picking up a loose ball and eluding Irwin as he came out beyond the penalty box then firing the ball into the back of the net.
Irwin later stopped Lenhart from in close, Colorado regained possession and Brian Mullan’s cross set up Sturgis’ goal.
Lenhart had a second goal waved off by an off-sides call in the 85th minute.
San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch caught a shot by Edson Buddle with a minute left.
“Our play changed in the second half,” Watson said. “We didn’t have to take the game to them. They had to take the game to us.”
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