Goalkeeping the difference in 'Quakes-Crew draw


Goalkeeping the difference in 'Quakes-Crew draw

Nick Rosano

The Earthquakes registered another 0-0 draw, but despite thelack of execution, there were some positives for San Jose to take from its trip to face theColumbus Crew. While Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch was called into action morethan a few times, the team also managed to test Crew goalkeeper William Hesmeron the other end, as two strong goalkeeping performances decided thescoreline. He was a real difference maker today for sure, Earthquakesdefender Chris Leitch said. I donteven know which save to talk about because there were like four that were worldclass saves for sure, four or five of them. Both goalkeepers came up with big plays in both halves, asHesmer came up big to tip over a blistering shot from Simon Dawkins late in thefirst half. Minutes later, Busch game up with an equally impressive save,denying Crew winger Robbie Rogers in a one-on-one situation. Busch followed his first half performance up with two finesaves on the Crews Peruvian forward, Andres Mendoza. I think the two on Mendoza,I think I just tried to stand up and make myself look big and hope it hit meand you know he hit me twice with it, Busch said. At the end of the day, Ivesaid a few times, thats what we get paid to do. Not to be outdone, Hesmer made two fine saves, one on SimonDawkins and a second on a strong header from Chris Wondolowski. Ultimately hewas able to frustrate the Earthquakes and extend the teams winless streak tosix games. Will Hesmer and I did our jobs tonight, Busch said.Some days you have more to do and some days you have less to do. Despite the long unbeaten streak, including five gamesscoreless, the team was reasonably happy to have come away from Ohio with a point,especially considering the team has played midweek games each of the last twoweeks. I think if we would have been asked before we came here tocome into Columbusand play against a very good Crew team, would you take a point ?, we probablywould, said Earthquakes assistant coach Mark Watson, who filled in on thebench for a suspended Frank Yallop. It was a good game. You know, I thoughtthere were chances at both ends, I thought both teams did quite well, and Ithink we are pretty happy with the point. While a draw on the road is generally a decent result insoccer, Earthquakes defender Chris Leitch maintained the team could have playedbetter. I think we would have liked to play a little bit better,Leitch said, after the game. That said, sometimes you have to get a resultwhen youre not playing your best and I think that is what we did tonight, wedidnt play our best but we got a result. The Earthquakes will get a golden chance to snap theirwinless streak when the Vancouver Whitecaps, possessing the worst record in MLScome to town, just two days after hosting English Premier League outfit Manchester City in an exhibition. With the teamshowing a few signs of life, and three new players, Wednesdays game could bethe one that sets the tone for another playoff chase.For more Earthquakes, MLS and world soccer musings,follow Nick Rosano on Twitter: @nicholasrosano

Quakes crushed in Vancouver, eliminated from MLS Cup Playoffs


Quakes crushed in Vancouver, eliminated from MLS Cup Playoffs


The San Jose Earthquakes' season is over, after the Vancouver Whitecaps beat San Jose 5-0 in the knockout round of the MLS Cup Playoffs on Tuesday night. 

Fredy Montero opened the scoring for the Whitecaps in the 33rd minute. In the second half, Cristian Tecera and Kendall Watson scored seven minutes apart and all but sealed the hosts' first-ever playoff win. Second half substitute Nicolas Mezquida scored a brace for good measure, with two goals in 78th and 80th minute. 

Earthquakes captain Chris Wondolowski was held off of the scoresheet for his fourth consecutive playoff game. The 34-year-old scored one goal in six career postseason appearances. 

Tuesday marked San Jose's first postseason appearance since 2012. The Earthquakes have not advanced past the quarterfinals of the MLS Cup Playoffs since 2010.

Earthquakes come into MLS Playoffs as clear underdogs in Vancouver

Earthquakes come into MLS Playoffs as clear underdogs in Vancouver

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Carl Robinson was talking about the need to rely on key veterans in a playoff game.

And then the Vancouver coach all but confirmed that he will replace two long-time standouts on Wednesday in the Whitecaps' Major League Soccer knockout-round playoff game against the San Jose Earthquakes.

One -- left fullback Jordan Harvey, the longest-serving Whitecap -- definitely will not start. Instead, Marcel de Jong, who has been deployed mainly as a utility player on the back line and in midfield, will get the call.

"Marcel has played very well for the last three games he's played, and so has Jordan, but for this matchup, Marcel will play," Robinson said after a practice Tuesday at the club's University of British Columbia training facility.

Harvey, a 33-year-old Mission Viejo, Calif., native, has rarely taken a night off since joining the Whitecaps in a trade from Philadelphia in Vancouver's inaugural MLS season in 2011.

De Jong, a 31-year-old Newmarket, Ontario, native who plays internationally for Canada, got into only 13 games during the regular season and just seven in 2016 after joining the club in midseason from Ottawa of the second-tier North American Soccer League.

Meanwhile, Stefan Marinovic, a 24-year-old New Zealand international, is expected to start in goal as David Ousted, a 31-year-old Dane who has been the team's heavily used starter since his arrival in mid-2013, watches for the fourth time in the past five games.

Marinovic has a modest 2-2-1 record with one shutout.

"It's no gamble at all," Robinson said of changing goalies. "Stef's a top-class goalkeeper. We know that.

"I'm a very lucky manager in this league in that I've got two very good goalkeepers. Stef's come in and, in the games he's played, he's been exceptional. I need him to make saves at big times. (Ousted) has done that throughout the first two-thirds of the season. Stef has now taken charge."

The Wednesday contest marks the time for the Whitecaps to take charge of their postseason fortunes after they squandered a chance to finish first in the Western Conference and dropped to third thanks to a draw with the Earthquakes two weeks ago and a loss to the Portland Timbers last weekend.

Vancouver (15-12-7) has never won a playoff game in its MLS existence.

The winner of Wednesday's contest will play a two-game, total-goals series against either first-place Portland or the second-place Seattle Sounders.

The Earthquakes, who grabbed the sixth and final playoff berth in the West with a 13-14-7 mark, are clear underdogs. However, Vancouver captain Kendall Waston downplayed the apparent pressure on his team, which was a modest 1-3-1 in its last five regular-season games.

"Pressure, for me, is (not having) money to go buy milk for my son," Waston said. "This is trying to be (as) responsible as we can. We have to look at this match as the others, but the thing is, if we lose, we have to go home -- and we (don't) want to go home."

Vancouver's top scorer, Fredy Montero, said he is ready to play a full game after being used as a substitute in Portland due to a minor injury.

Meanwhile, the Earthquakes will try to continue to rebound from a 6-6-5 start that cost former coach Dominic Kinnear his job. Replacement Chris Leitch saw the team endure some fits and starts, but the Earthquakes managed to get into the playoffs after Marco Urena, a teammate of Waston on Costa Rica's national team, scored the last-minute winner over Minnesota United last weekend.

"I always shine in these important moments," Urena said afterward. "God chose me (for such times.)"

The Earthquakes might need some divine intervention after allowing 21 more goals than they scored during the regular season. Even so, they have one of the all-time best MLS players in Chris Wondolowski, who assisted on the winner and also scored last weekend, earning MLS player of the week honors.

"Legitimately one of the hardest things I had to do in my life," Wondolowski, who loves to shoot, said about passing on the winning goal.

Wondolowski, who is tied for second on the MLS all-time scoring list with Jeff Cunningham at 134 goals, said it has been a "look-in-the mirror-and-see-what-you're-made-of season," for the Quakes, who made several midseason roster changes.