Tempers flared as the Earthquakes dropped a 1-0 decision to the Seattle Sounders on Tuesday night at historic Kezar Stadium in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup.
Things got out of hand at the final whistle with an incident involving Seattle star Eddie Johnson. While celebrating in front of the Quakes bench, Johnson punched Quakes substitute Jed Zayner, who was not in the game, knocking him down.
Quakes coach Frank Yallop declined to comment on the altercation, but his star player, Chris Wondolowski, tried to sort things out.
"All the reports that I heard is that he was celebrating in front of our bench and yelling at our fans, and Jed told him just go do it over on his side," Wondolowski said. "And he took a swing and hit Jed in the eye."
Wondolowski, who entered the fray in the 53rd minute as a substitute along with Steven Lenhart, faulted the bumpy field, the heated rivalry and referee Yader Reyes for the game's out-of-control nature.
The three-time defending champion Sounders will host Chivas USA, a 2-1 winner over the Charlotte Eagles, in the semifinals July 10. The final is Aug. 7 or 8 at a site to be determined.
Tempers flared repeatedly in the second half.
Quakes forward Alan Gordon received a red card in stoppage time after retaliating, shortly before the Quakes argued that a handball should have been called in the Seattle box.
"It was very clear," Wondolowski said of the missed call. "Guy made a last-ditch effort just to save the goal, and it was a great save. I think it was a save that (Quakes goalkeepers Jon) Busch or (David) Bingham would be proud of."
Yallop didn't make excuses for the result, saying his team simply lost out to a tough defense and a strong effort by Seattle keeper Andrew Weber, a Quakes third-stringer last year. Yallop thought both teams struggled with the field conditions.
"I think the venue and us not being at home ... makes it a bit edgy for both teams," Yallop said.
With Seattle and San Jose enduring quick turnarounds after playing MLS matches during the weekend, the starting lineups were a hodgepodge of regulars and fill-ins.
Predictably, the Quakes rallied late and just missed scoring on a handful of crosses in the box. The club has earned four wins and three ties in MLS play after trailing in a match.
The Sounders led 1-0 in the 19th minute on a crazy goal by rookie Cordell Cato. Cato, 19, raced past Justin Morrow on the right and shot the ball between Bingham's legs from a sharp angle at the end line 8 yards away.
The Quakes attack perked up as the first half unfolded. After the Quakes' Steven Beitashour was fouled in the 75th minute, Morrow drew a yellow card. Tempers flared at that point, but no punches were thrown.
Earlier in the first half, an apparent goal by Quakes defender Ike Opara was negated by a handball.
This was the Earthquakes' best showing in the Open Cup since they advanced to the quarterfinals in 2005.
The Sounders had outscored their first two Open Cup opponents a combined 10-1. The Quakes, with Bingham in goal both times, beat the Minnesota Stars 1-0 after topping the Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2-1.
The Quakes are looking for a second straight win against the defending MLS Cup champion Galaxy, led by international stars David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan. The Earthquakes counter with Wondolowski.