Earthquakes

Instant Replay: Quakes complete comeback, beat Whitecaps to start 2-0

Instant Replay: Quakes complete comeback, beat Whitecaps to start 2-0

BOX SCORE

For the second season in a row, the San Jose Earthquakes are off to an undefeated start after a pair of games. 

The Quakes (2-0-0) overcame a very slow start but scored two second-half goals to beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-2 Saturday night at Avaya Stadium. Anibal Godoy scored the game-winner in the 79th minute -- his second of the season.

The Earthquakes defense got off to a slow start and the Whitecaps' intention of pressing high from the onset worked to perfection when, in the second minute, a miscue from Florian Jungwirth led to an Erik Hurtado goal.

The lapse in communication between Jungwirth and fellow centerback Victor Bernardez reared it ugly head again just 15 minutes later -- once more costing San Jose on the score sheet. This time, Nicolas Mezquida capitalized on a low cross that sat between the two central defenders in the 18. Mezquida's quick reaction and ability to poke the ball netted him a goal and a 2-0 lead for the guests.

But the Quakes got their first big break in the 23rd minute when a breakaway opportunity for Chris Wondolowski forced Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted to play sweeper and clip the captain some 22 yards from goal. The referee was quick to reach for his pocket and sent Ousted to an early shower with a red card.

Up a man, San Jose pressed, and on one of its eight first-half corners, capitalized when Bernardez sent a ball across the box to Wondolowski, who half-volleyed a ball home in the 32nd minute for his first goal of the season and 118th of his career.

It took the Quakes nine minutes into the second half to equalize and it was San Jose's Homegrown player who leveled things up. His rocket of a shot was set up beautifully by Wondolowski, who laid a ball off for the defender inside the 18 and the Cal product made the most of the opportunity for his first MLS goal and first for a Homegrown player in franchise history.

The comeback would be complete in the 79th minute when Godoy fired from 25 yards out with his left foot for yet another Goal-of-the-Week-contending strike. The shot knuckled and gave the Vancouver keeper zero chance at a save. 

Man of the Match:

After being shutout in Week 1, Wondolowski made his presence felt on Saturday. And as it has been the case for some time now, as the captain goes, so do the Quakes. Against the Whitecaps, Wondolowski scored the 115th goal of his Quakes career. Then, he was the main contributor to Lima’s first goal as a professional footballer. It was quite a sight after that goal when, in a moment of pure euphoria, the defender sprinted over to his captain and embraced him in gratitude.

Turning Point:

Ousted’s red card changed the complexion of the game. Up until that moment, there is little argument that Vancouver was in control. Down a man and up two goals, the Whitecaps had no choice but to defend and that opened up chance after chance for the Quakes – of which San Jose converted the three they needed.

New Quakes watch:

Lima's goal for the highlight of the evening. His goal became the first from a Homegrown Player for San Jose in their franchise's history. He is the second such player for the Quakes, with Tommy Thompson still waiting for his time to shine in the goal column. 

Jahmir Hyka also merits praise. The new Quakes midfielder came in as a substitute at half time and picked up two assists. 

Booked:

Vancouver: Russell Teibert (yellow, 15th), Ousted (red, 23rd), Christian Dean (yellow, 89th); San Jose: Fatai Alashe (yellow, 7th)

Up Next:

The Quakes hit the road for a tough showdown with Sporting KC. The March 18 contest is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. kickoff.

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.

USMNT back on track with 4-0 pounding of Panama

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AP

USMNT back on track with 4-0 pounding of Panama

ORLANDO, Fla. — Teenage star Christian Pulisic scored with a brilliant touch to complete a field-length attack just eight minutes in, then split the defense with a pass that set up Jozy Altidore for the first of the forward's two goals and put the United States back on track for next year's World Cup with a 4-0 rout of Panama on Friday night.

Pulisic fed Altidore for a 2-0 lead in the 19th. Altidore converted a penalty kick with a chip in the 43rd after Bobby Wood was fouled, and Wood added a goal in the 63rd.

The U.S. ended a three-match winless streak in qualifying and with 12 points and moved two points ahead of Panama into third place — the last automatic berth — in the North and Central American and Caribbean region. Honduras has nine points going into its match Saturday at Costa Rica, which is second with 15.

Goal difference means the Americans put themselves in great shape to reach an eighth straight World Cup, almost certainly with a win Tuesday at Trinidad and Tobago and likely with a draw if Honduras fails to win Saturday. The U.S. is plus-five to minus-two for Panama and minus-seven for Honduras.

The region's fourth-place team advances to a playoff next month against Australia or Syria.

"We could have finished better on the day and scored more goals," U.S. coach Bruce Arena said.

Playing his first international match since he turned 19 last month, Pulisic was moved to central midfield from the flanks by coach Bruce Arena and sparked the attack from the opening whistle with pace and ball control seldom seen from Americans.

After Gabriel Gomez broke free from Omar Gonzalez and shot over the crossbar, Tim Howard's goal kick was headed forward by Bobby Wood about 10 yards past midfield.

Altidore one-timed the ball ahead to on a sprinting Pulisic, and the midfielder reached back with his left leg to flick the ball ahead. Pulisic jumped to avoid Roman Torres' challenge and used the outside of his right foot to play the ball forward. As goalkeeper Jaime Penedo came off his line, Pulisic used the outside of his right foot again to play the ball wide and jumped over Pinedo's outstretched arm. At the edge of the 6-yard box and just 2 yards from the endline, Pulisic reached with his right foot to slot the ball in, completing a 112-yard U.S. move. Pulisic tumbled over as the ball rolled in for his eighth goal in 19 international appearances, his fourth in the hex.

Pulisic created the second goal when he played the ball between his feet and faked Michael Murillo on the left flank Pulisic broke ahead and fed Altidore, who split the center backs and redirected the ball in from 5 yards for his first goal of the hexagonal. At that point, Pulisic had played a part in 11 of the Americans' 14 goals in the hex.

After Wood and Altidore failed to convert good chances, Wood drew the penalty kick when he exchanged passes with Paul Arriola along a flank, broke past Felipe Baloy, spurted diagonally into the penalty area and was pushed down by Armando Cooper. As Pinedo dived to his left, Altidore chipped the ball down the center for his 41st international game.

Hacked down several times by Panamanians, Pulisic was removed in the 57th minute and walked out to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 25,303 at Orlando City Stadium, which opened in February,

Wood added his 10th international goal off a pass from Arriola.

Panama was trying to move into position to qualify for its first World Cup. The Panamanians were 90 seconds from advancing to a playoff against New Zealand four years ago, when Graham Zusi and Aron Johannsson scored late goals at Honduras, which dropped Panama behind Mexico and into fifth place.