Alan Gordon (pictured) points to the sky after scoring the San Jose Earthquakes' equalizer in a 1-1 CONCACAF Champions League draw with Toluca on March 11, 2014, in Santa Clara, California. (Photo: Mexsport)
SANTA CLARA, California – Alan Gordon scored a dramatic late equalizer as the San Jose Earthquakes rallied to tie Toluca 1-1 in the opening leg of their CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) quarterfinal series at Buck Shaw Stadium on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old forward struck in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time, heading Shea Salinas’ free kick off the right post and into the net from 10-yards out.
Raul Nava gave the visitors a 67th minute lead with his tournament-leading seventh goal. The Mexican forward pounced on a clearance by San Jose defender Jason Hernandez and hammered a full volley from the edge of the 18-yard box over the right shoulder of Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch.
With that strike, Nava moved ahead of Hector Mancilla on the Red Devils’ all-time tournament list with 10 career goals. It was also the first goal conceded by the Earthquakes in 269 minutes of CCL play.
San Jose was agonizingly close to leveling in the 79th minute, but Steven Lenhart headed a Salinas cross off the crossbar. Toluca defender Edgar Dueñas blocked JJ Koval’s shot on the rebound and Gordon’s second rebound also couldn’t find its way through a maze of bodies in front of the net.
Five minutes from full time, Lenhart drew Toluca goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera out to challenge his cross. Under duress from Aaron Galindo, Gordon tapped the ball wide.
Chris Wondolowski had two solid scoring chances in first 16 minutes of the second half.
In the 55th minute, the United States international received a cross from Cordell Cato and hit the target from the edge of the six-yard box. Talavera, though, was equal to the task, making the save before the ball was cleared out for a corner kick.
Six minutes later, Talavera denied Wondolowski again after the striker latched onto a flicked header Lenhart, who has two career CONCACAF Champions League goals against Toluca as a member of the Columbus Crew.
The second leg will be played at Estadio Nemesio Diez on March 19.