Late free kick lifts Earthquakes over Galaxy


Late free kick lifts Earthquakes over Galaxy


As they have all season, the San Jose Earthquakes left itlate to find a game winner, but a winner they found, as a Victor Bernardez 35yard free kick gave the visitors a 1-0 victory over the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center.With aggregate goals over the two legs of the semifinalseries determining which team will advance to the Western Conference finals,the Earthquakes will need only a draw when the two teams return to Buck ShawStadium Wednesday night to move in their march to the MLS Cup.The Galaxy were the aggressors for much of the affair, withDesignated Players Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane both having golden scoringopportunities go wanting. Meanwhile, the Earthquakes defense stayed resolutethroughout the 90 minutes, cutting down most Galaxy efforts in the attackingthird, and earned their first shutout since a 2-0 win against Chivas USA inSeptember.The Bernardez goal was the Earthquakes' ninth stoppage timegoal of the season and their sixth game winning goal scored after regulationtime had elapsed.Chris Wondolowski came close to stunning the capacity crowdat the Home Depot Center in the 2nd minute when he stabbed at a ballin the Galaxy penalty area after goalkeeper Josh Saunders and defender TommyMeyer failed to communicate on a clearance attempt, but the shot attempt wasdeflected wide of the post.A free kick opportunity for LA in the 8th minutenearly propelled the home side to the lead, as David Beckham curled anin-swinging cross into the area that split the Quakes defense, but Keane wasnot able to direct his snap header on target.The Galaxy had another pair of scoring chances go wantingduring a first half that saw them slowly assert their control over the match. A32nd minute shot from Donovan was comfortably saved by goalkeeperJon Busch and a 38th minute cross from the Galaxy captain justmissed Keane at the back post.The Earthquakes, having weathered the Galaxy storm in thefirst half, began to see their fortunes improve in the second stanza.Substitutes Simon Dawkins and Alan Gordon provided a lift to the San Jose offense, whileShea Salinas provided relief for speedster Marvin Chavez.The changes helped push the game more into the midfield, buta turnover near the center line almost proved costly for the Quakes, as Keanelatched onto a loose ball and drove toward goal. From 25 yards, the Irelandinternational fired a low, hard shot, but it was right into the grasp of Busch.Keane nearly scored in the 86th minute aftercollecting a back-pass from Donovan at the top of the area, but his shotrocketed off the crossbar after soaring over Busch.Bernardez captured the improbable win for the Earthquakes inthe 94th minute when his free kick from 35 yards eluded the defensewall and squirted out of the grasp of Saunders. The Earthquakes will carry a 1-0 aggregate lead back to BuckShaw Stadium where they will face the Galaxy Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m.

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.