[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE]Considered the weakest of the three MLS teams in the Concacaf Champions League, the San Jose Earthquakes came close to pulling a monumental upset when they held Toluca to a 1-1 tie at La Bombanera to send their series to penalty kicks, where they lost in the sixth round.
Playing without its top three center backs -- Honduran star Victor Bernardez, U.S. international Clarence Goodsonand Jason Hernandez -- its first two choices at right back and its starting left back, San Jose lined up Ty Harden, and Stanford rookie J.J. Koval, normally a midfielder, in the middle and Cordell Cato and Shaun Francis on the outside to take on the Rojos Diablos, who were unbeaten at home in their last 12 games.
Amazingly, the Quakes, who also gave their first start to first-year forward Billy Schuler up front in place of Chris Wondolowski, went ahead with a goal by Harden in 56th minute. San Jose-born Isaac Brizuela, who is making a bid to make the Mexico World Cup team, scored the only goal for Toluca 13 minutes later with a golazo on a half-volley from more than 25 yards out. It would take that kind of shot to beat Jon Busch, who at the age of 37 was excellent for the Quakes all evening with at least a half dozen acrobatic saves.
The Quakes thought they had taken the lead in overtime, but Goonie leader Alan Gordon's goal in the 96th minute was called off for offside.
Busch saved the first Toluca penalty kick, but Wondolowski, who came on in the second half, missed the first San Jose attempt. In round 6, Wilson Tiago's shot was deflected by Busch off the crossbar but the ball crossed the line. Shea Salinas had no such luck as his shot hit the crossbar and bounced away, sending the Quakes home after a valiant effort at La Bombanera.
March 19 in Toluca
Toluca 1 San Jose Earthquakes 1 (Toluca wins 5-4 on penalties). Goals: Brizuela 69; Harden 56.
Toluca -- Talavera; Galindo, Da Silva, Gamboa, Salgueiro; Trejo, Tiago, Riis; Nava, Brizuela, Benitez (Brambila 85)
San Jose Earthquakes --Busch, Cato, Koval, Harden, Francis, Salinas, Cronin, Stephenson, Harris (Wondolowski 67), Schuler, Lenhart (Gordon 90).