The Earthquakes tried and tried Tuesday night but they just couldn't break free from Minnesota Stars FC in a rugged U.S. Open Cup match in front of an announced crowd of 1,548 at Stanford's Cagan Stadium.
Coach Frank Yallop, though, never gave up hope for a goal.
It finally came with five minutes left in regulation off the head of Steven Lenhart as San Jose escaped with a 1-0 victory to reach the quarterfinals of a tournament featuring teams from amateurs to pros.
The Quakes will play the Seattle Sounders on June 26 at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco -- a match sandwiched between three important Major League Soccer games. In all San Jose will play four times in 10 days after a long break for international match play.
"It will be fun," Lenhart said. "The more we play the better we mesh."
The Quakes got the extra game thanks to Marvin Chavez, who set up the game-winning play by stealing a ball at midfield. He sent a long serve to Steven Beitashour on the right side. The third-year fullback then crossed into the box where Lenhart redirected the ball past goalkeeper Matt VanOekel.
"We kept our heads in the game like every game," Lenhart said.
Their North American Soccer League opponent entered the match with a 17-game unbeaten streak. It soon became apparent why the second division team coached by former Quakes star Manny Lagos is so successful.
"They're a good side," holding midfielder Jean-Marc Alexandre said. "They're emotional, too. They're a fit team and pressed us the whole game."
The Stars made it difficult for San Jose to find its offensive rhythm and started to show as the second half wore on.
"We tried to do everything possible to win the game," midfielder Tressor Moreno said in Spanish. "We played out wide, in the middle, and we sent in a lot of crosses. Their keeper did very well to keep us off the board."
San Jose had its chances but didn't have its finishing touch against the 6-foot-4 VanOekel.
The Quakes missed at least three good threats in the first half, including Lenhart's shot in the 27th minute that VanOekel deflected into the crossbar.
San Jose squandered more potential game-breaking shots in the second half, including one by Lenhart in front of the goalmouth in the 81st minute. The striker hesitated a moment too long.
But he came through when it mattered most.
The team now has a reserve game at Chivas USA on Friday and then has a five-day break. The Quakes start the second half of MLS play June 20 at Colorado and then travel to Real Salt Lake three days later before playing host to Seattle at Kezar.
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/elliottalmond.
Earthquakes at Colorado, 6:30 p.m., CSNBA+