Earthquakes

Instant Replay: Quakes no longer control destiny with loss to Rapids

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USATSI

Instant Replay: Quakes no longer control destiny with loss to Rapids

MATCH REPORT

For weeks now, the San Jose Earthquakes have flirted with completely falling out of MLS Cup playoff contention only to have the other teams they’re jousting with give them a little hope.

But after Thursday’s 2-1 loss to Colorado, the Quakes may have sealed their 2016 fate.

Two goals by Kevin Doyle, the latter a second half penalty kick, was enough offense to hand the Quakes their 14th loss of the season. The loss, coupled with a Sporting Kansas City win or draw on Sunday against Real Salt Lake, will eliminate San Jose from the 2016 Major League Soccer playoffs. Currently, the Quakes sit six points behind the red playoff line.

San Jose’s 14th loss is also one more than they had all of last season.

Doyle opened the scoring with a beautiful diving header in the 38th minute courtesy of a Marc Burch cross that sliced its way into the San Jose box from the left side. 

But the Quakes had a legitimate chance to believe when Chris Wondolowski converted from the penalty spot to equalize the match in the 57th minute. The forward was knocked down in the box and minutes later, he beat Colorado’s Tim Howard to the keeper's right.

However, 15 minutes after the penalty gave, it took away when Doyle stepped up and executed from 12 yards out, beating David Bingham right down the middle of his goal.

Colorado was awarded the penalty when Fatai Alashe pulled Dillion Powers down in the box on a corner kick.

Streak snapped: The Earthquakes entered the match riding a 14-game unbeaten streak against the Colorado Rapids and hadn’t lost a game in the series since Aug. 13, 2011. The Quakes held a 7-0-7 overall record against the Rapids over that timespan.

Turning point: Unfortunately for San Jose, Alashe's foul in the box happened right in front of the head referee. Replays show Powers embellished the tug, but from the referee's vantage point, it was enough to blow the whistle and point to the spot. With the Quakes' offensive struggles and only 17 minutes left to score two goals, the mountain was too high for them to climb. 

Supporters' Shield: The win for the Rapids propelled them into first place in the Western Conference -- a point ahead of FC Dallas for the Supporters' Shield. 

Up the scoring chart: Wondolowski's goal was the 11th of his career against the Rapids. That's the most goals the forward has scored against any team in MLS -- moving him one past Seattle, Vancouver and the now debunked Chivas USA. 

Up Next: The Quakes return to Avaya Stadium on Sunday to face the Vancouver Whitecaps on Fan Appreciation Day. Kick off is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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.