(Photo credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)
Matthew Hoppe's 74th-minute goal salvaged a point for the San Jose Earthquakes in a 1-1 draw with visiting Nashville SC on Saturday.
Teal Bunbury scored to give Nashville (12-9-8, 44 points) a lead in the 50th minute, but the visitors had to hang on just to secure a draw after the Earthquakes dominated the last 20 minutes of play.
This aggressive stretch for San Jose was highlighted by Hoppe's goal, which came 13 minutes after he entered the game as a substitute. A nice passing play for the Earthquakes concluded with Carlos Akapo finding an open Hoppe on the right side of the box, and the forward converted his shot.
Acquired by the Earthquakes in early August, Hoppe's two MLS goals have come in each of San Jose's last two matches.
The Earthquakes (10-10-11, 41 points) outshot Nashville by a 20-10 margin and had several other near-misses on scoring chances.
Hoppe, Cade Cowell and Jackson Yueill all put shots off the goalpost, with Yueill's chance coming during a chaotic sequence in the 77th minute. Three Earthquakes shots in rapid succession resulted in a save from Nashville goalkeeper Elliot Panicco, a goal clearance from a Nashville defender, and Yueill's shot off the iron.
The missed chances could be critical to San Jose's playoff hopes, as the Earthquakes are only 1-3-3 in their last seven matches. San Jose dropped from seventh to eighth place in the Western Conference standings, only three points above the playoff line.
A victory Saturday would have clinched a playoff berth for Nashville SC, though the club is still in a comfortable position in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Nashville is unbeaten (2-0-2) in its last four matches.
Bunbury's goal was assisted by a nice cross from defender Shaq Moore, whose well-placed pass found Bunbury in the goal area. The veteran forward made a one-touch deflection to put the ball under the crossbar for Bunbury's third goal of the regular season.
--Field Level Media