Garza's brace leads Earthquakes to U.S. Open Cup win


Garza's brace leads Earthquakes to U.S. Open Cup win

U.S. Open Cup success had not come for the San JoseEarthquakes in almost a decade, but on Tuesday evening at Cagan Stadium on thecampus of Stanford University the Quakesdispatched of NASL side Fort Lauderdale Strikers to advance to the fourth roundof the tournament. A pair of goals from rookie Sam Garza was enough to countera wonder strike from Strikers forward Mark Anderson and send the intrepid 1,271fans in attendance home happy.As is often the case when two teams meet for the first timein nearly three decades, the Earthquakes and the Strikers played tentativelyfor the matchs first ten minutes. Fort Lauderdalerarely ventured past the centerline, and San Jose seemed content to control possession across thedefensive back four. It wasnt until the 15th minute that eitherteam even had a shot attempt, when the Quakes' Ike Opara headed a free kick fromthe foot of Tressor Moreno wide of the goal. However, the venture into the attacking third began to occurat an accelerated rate over the ensuing minutes. In the 17th minute,following a deflected pass from Sam Garza intended for Sercan Guvenisik, StevenLenhart found himself alone at the top of the area with only Strikersgoalkeeper Matt Glaeser to beat. His hard shot to the keepers left was kickedaway from danger. A minute later, Lenharts strike partner Guvenisik nearlyput the Earthquakes on top, but his headed ball from Josh Suggs bounced up inthe six-yard box and was deflected over the crossbar for a corner kick. The Earthquakes were almost caught out on a Strikerscounterattack in the 21st minute when, on a through ball to the topof the area, defender Justin Morrow slipped and allowed Walter Restrepo a pathon goal. However, goalkeeper David Bingham rushed forward to neutralize theball and clear it to safety. The match settled down and both teams traded fruitless tripsinto the attacking third over the next quarter hour. Perhaps the lack of actionlulled Bingham into a sense of calm because in an unfortunate moment of poorpositioning, he was made to pay by the opportunistic Strikers. Following a well timed tackle from the Strikers, the ballrolled into the path of forward Mark Anderson just inside his own half of thefield. Taking a small touch to settle himself after looking to be surprised atreceiving the ball, Andersonspied Bingham well off his goal line, and uncorked a shot from the Strikersside of the centerline. Bingham could only back peddle and thrust his armsskyward in an attempt to save the shot, but his efforts were for naught and theball settled into the net on the fly. The Earthquakes looked shocked by the Strikers goal andimmediately switched to a higher gear on offense. The team tried to breakthrough over the final five minutes of the half, but instead retreated to thelocker room at halftime trailing 1-0. The second half began with the Earthquakes clearly burned bythe actions of the first half, and they poured forward in numbers looking forthe tying goal. In the 47th minute, it looked like the goal had beenfound, when a slick pass from Morenowas received by Garza on the right wing and crossed across the front of goal.Guvenisik met the ball at the far post and sent the ball on target, but theStriker goalkeeper just managed to keep the ball from crossing the goal line. The sustained pressure by San Jose appeared to have paid dividends inthe 61st minute, as Garza found a deflected ball at his feet just inside theright corner of the area. However, his shot was well off target and soared highinto the evening air. In the 63rd minute, the Earthquakes finallyequalized, as Garza made amends for his earlier miss with a well placed balllow inside the post. The goal was justly deserved, and the Earthquakes continuedto press the Strikers on the restart. In the 70th minute, followinga giveaway from the Fort Lauderdale defense in adangerous area, San Josetook the lead. Not looking to do anything fancy, Lenhart redirected theloose ball back into the path of Garza. The Earthquakes rookie one-timed a shotinto the back of the net to put the home side up 2-1. Trailing by a goal and with time running out on theirtournament life, the Strikers looked for every opportunity to get into theattacking third. In the 72nd minute and again in the 74thminute, goal scorer Anderson had the chance to level the score, but twice hewas denied by excellent saves from goalkeeper Bingham. The danger past, the Earthquakes again restored theirdominance in possession and poured forward looking to salt the match away.Second half substitutes Simon Dawkins and Steven Beitashour brought afirst-team feeling to the proceedings, and the final 15 minutes of the matchwas played almost exclusively in the Strikers' end. Just once was Bingham tested in that time, when in the 85thminute he was called to parry away a fierce strike from defender Scott Lorenzplaying in an advanced position on a restart, but that was all the Florida sidewas able to muster. As the fans rose to their feet during the three minutes ofstoppage time, the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of the match andthe Earthquakes celebrated their 2-1 victory.

Earthquakes secure spot in playoffs with clutch goal in stoppage time

Earthquakes secure spot in playoffs with clutch goal in stoppage time


SAN JOSE — Marco Urena scored in the third minute of stoppage time and the San Jose Earthquakes secured a playoff spot with a 3-2 victory over Minnesota United on Sunday in their regular-season finale.

San Jose (13-14-7) needed a win for the final spot in the Western Conference after FC Dallas' 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy. It's an unexpected run for the Earthquakes, who fired coach Dominic Kinnear midway through the season.

In the build-up to the winner, San Jose goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell sent a long ball that was chested by Victor Bernardez and headed to Quincy Amarikwa inside the 18-yard box. Minnesota goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth pushed Amarikwa's shot wide but San Jose star Chris Wondolowski chased it down for a feed to an open Urena in front of goal.

The Earthquakes have won seven of their last nine home games — with every win coming by one goal.

Wondolowski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead in the 55th with an easy redirection of Danny Hoesen cross at the back post.

Minnesota (10-18-6), which has lost nine of its last 12 road games, tied it at 2 in the 81st on Francisco Calvo's header off the crossbar.

Shocker: US Men's National Team eliminated from World Cup contention


Shocker: US Men's National Team eliminated from World Cup contention

COUVA, Trinidad — Twenty-eight years after one of the United States' most important victories came in stunning fashion at Trinidad to end a four-decade World Cup absence, the Americans' chances for the 2018 tournament in Russia ended on this island nation off the coast of Venezuela.

The U.S. was eliminated from World Cup contention Tuesday night, a shocking 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago ending a run of seven straight American appearances at soccer's showcase.

The Soca Warriors scored a pair of first-half goals, getting one off U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez, and the United States made too many other mistakes to recover. The Americans are out of the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

"We let down an entire nation today," Gonzalez said.

Shocked American players slumped on the bench, and Matt Besler sat on the field after the final whistle as Panama's game ended and then Costa Rica's. At the end, dejected U.S. players filed into their locker rooms with blank looks.

"We foolishly brought Trinidad into the game with the own goal," coach Bruce Arena said. "That was a big goal for Trinidad psychologically. That got them motivated."

The U.S. entered its final qualifier with a berth uncertain for the first time since 1989. Home losses to Mexico last November and Costa Rica left the Americans little margin for error.

The 28th-ranked Americans needed merely a tie against 99th-ranked Trinidad, which lost its sixth straight qualifier last week. But the defeat — coupled with Honduras' come-from-behind 3-2 win over Mexico and Panama's 2-1 victory over Costa Rica on Ramon Torres' 88th-minute goal — dropped the Americans from third place into fifth in the six-nation final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region.

Mexico and Costa Rica already had clinched berths, and Panama claimed the third and final automatic spot and will go the World Cup for the first time. Honduras will meet Australia in a two-game playoff next month for another spot at next year's 32-nation tournament.

Missing the World Cup is a devastating blow to the U.S. Soccer Federation, which has steadily built the sport in the last quarter-century with the help of sponsors and television partners. It also is a trauma for Fox, which broadcasts the next three World Cups after taking the U.S. rights from ESPN. The USSF hopes to co-host the 2026 tournament with Mexico and Canada, and Morocco is the only other bidder.

After an 0-2 start in the hexagonal last fall under Jurgen Klinsmann, the USSF replaced him last November with Arena, the American coach from 1998-2006. The team revived with home wins over Honduras and Trinidad last spring and draws at Panama and Mexico. But the 2-0 defeat to Costa Rica in New Jersey at the start of Labor Day weekend proved one hurdle too many to overcome.

The Americans fell behind in the 17th minute when Gonzalez made a casual attempt with his left foot to clear Alvin Jones' cross and sent the ball looping over the outstretched right arm of goalkeeper Tim Howard from 18 yards.

Jones doubled the lead in the 37th with a 35-yard strike, again to Howard's upper right corner, and nearly scored another in the 44th when his swerving shot bounced off Howard's chest and spilled into the penalty area.

Christian Pulisic, the Americans' 19-year-old star midfielder, scored in the 47th minute from the arc with a right-footed shot. He played a role in 12 of the 17 American goals in the hexagonal.

One minute later, Howard made a kick save on Shahdon Winchester's short-range shot, and DeAndre Yedlin blocked Levi Garcia's follow-up attempt.

The U.S. bench was tense, as Honduras scored twice early in the second half to take the lead over visiting Mexico in the 60th minute and Panama tied the score against visiting Costa Rica in the 52nd.

Clint Dempsey, who entered at the start of the second half, was denied by goalkeeper Adrian Foncette's leaping save in the 69th and hit a post from 22 yards in the 77th. Pulisic's shot in the 87th was saved by Foncette.

All American reserves were standing for much of the final minutes, and Arena had repeated exasperated looks.

"No excuses for us not getting the second goal and at least a point," Arena said. "It's a blemish for us."

Just a few hundred fans were in the stands at 10,000-capacity Ato Boldon Stadium, located 24 miles south of the capital, Port-of-Spain. Paul Caligiuri's famous goal at the National Stadium in 1989 put the U.S. in the World Cup for the first time since 1950.

Among the spectators were a few dozen American Outlaws, the U.S. supporters group.

Water that had flooded the track surrounding the field ahead of the U.S. training session Monday was gone.