Earthquakes

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Quakes' 4-2 loss in Atlanta

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Quakes' 4-2 loss in Atlanta

It was a gutsy performance for the San Jose Earthquakes, but the task of going cross county to face a dangerous Atlanta United FC team on just two days rest proved to be too much. 

Anton Walkes headed home the go-ahead goal for AUFC in the 81st minute to give Atlanta the 3-2 lead. Josef Martinez would add the no-doubter in the 89th minute for the 4-2 win. 

San Jose played a man down from the 32nd minute onward when Kofi Sarkodie was shown a second yellow and forced the complexion of the game to change completely. 

Tommy Thompson scored in the second minute and Chris Wondolowski equalized in the 65th after Atlanta had roared back to take a 2-1 lead. 

The loss forces a two-way tie for fourth place in the Western Conference with the Quakes sharing that real estate with Portland. 

Here are five things to know about an Independence Day loss to Atlanta United FC. 

— Tommy Thompson has scored — finally. When Thompson signed the team’s first ever Homegrown contract back in 2014, the weight of San Jose fell on the then-18-year-old midfielder’s shoulders. And while he’s shown flashes of promise and has enjoyed the full confidence of Quakes fans, it must feel really nice for the Indiana native to get off the proverbial snide. 

For those keeping track at home, it took Thompson 63 MLS appearances totaling 2,633 minutes and 51 shots before the demigods of scoring found him worthy. 

— It didn’t take referee Jose Carlos Rivero very long to set the disciplinary tone in Tuesday’s match — 10 minutes in, and he had already booked Sarkodie. Rivero would reach into his pocket another six times in the first half alone, including flashing another yellow — then red — to Sarkodie to leave San Jose a man down with a little less than 60 minutes left in the match. 

The effects were felt immediately, as Leitch reached for Cordell Cato to replace the offensive-minded Shea Salinas minutes later. And Atlanta wasted very time attacking Cato’s side — scoring twice going from left to right in the second half. 

The Quakes finished the game with nine men when Rivero sent Victor Bernardez off with a straight red in the fourth minute of added time. 

A team already short on defenders will be without two more for their next MLS match, July 19 on the road against the New York Red Bulls. 

— It’s now two games in a row that Wondolowski scores in exquisite fashion. After Martinez scored on a brilliant header for Atlanta, less than two minutes later Nick Lima’s cross to the back post — going from left to right — landed beautifully on Wondolowski’s right foot for goal number eight of the season and 129th of his career. 

—  Tuesday’s match was San Jose’s sixth in 21 days. Come next Monday, when the Quakes take on LA Galaxy over at Avaya Stadium with a trip to the U.S. Open Cup semifinal on the line, it will be seven matches in 27 days. It’s a grueling stretch of soccer especially when you consider the injuries, suspensions, front office movement and international call-ups the Quakes have had to endure.  

So far, the Quakes are 4-1-1 in those games. 

— If you’re a North American soccer fan, you have to add a trip to Atlanta and Bobby Dodd Stadium to your list of places to catch a match. Tuesday saw almost 45,000 fans back the place and the environment they’ve built is already one of the best in Major League Soccer.

Earthquakes secure spot in playoffs with clutch goal in stoppage time

Earthquakes secure spot in playoffs with clutch goal in stoppage time

BOX SCORE

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

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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.