Earthquakes

'Quakes defeat Sounders 2-1, extend lead in West

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'Quakes defeat Sounders 2-1, extend lead in West

Chris Wondolowskis last season scoring surge continued Saturday night, as the San Jose Earthquakes took advantage of his 22nd goal of the season to overcome the Seattle Sounders 2-1 at CenturyLink Field. With the victory, the Earthquakes completed a three-game season sweep of the Sounders and opened up an 11 point lead in the Western Conference.

We started the game well and played a great first half to get the lead, said head coach Frank Yallop. Seattle put a lot of pressure on in the second half and we bent a little but we didnt break and got an important result. This team just has great spirit and they always push through to the end.

A goal from Simon Dawkins in the second minute, the earliest by an Earthquakes player since the franchise returned to MLS in 2008, was cancelled out 12 minutes later by Seattle midfielder Steve Zakuanis first goal of the campaign and first since returning from a horrific leg injury suffered early in the 2011 season. Wondolowski scored in the 30th minute to restore the Earthquakes lead, and the visitors hung on for the last hour of the match to post the victory.

For Wondolowski, the goal marked his 10th game winning goal of the season, setting a new MLS record and breaking his own personal best of 9 winners in the 2010 season. His goal also extended his lead atop the league scoring chart to a staggering 8 goals over second place strikers Alvaro Saborio of Real Salt Lake and Kenny Cooper of the New York Red Bulls.

I do pride myself on scoring important goals that help the team win, said Wondolowski, so it does feel good to score that many game-winning goals. This team gives me a lot of opportunities and I just need to finish them.

Playing their third game in eight days, the Earthquakes featured nearly the same line-up that faced Chivas USA a week earlier. Playing on the artificial turf of CenturyLink Field, coach Yallop deployed a starting XI that was geared toward keeping possession of the ball and transitioning from defense to offense with urgency. And with speedy wingers Shea Salinas and Marvin Chavez still mending from injuries, Dawkins and the rest of the Earthquakes midfield needed to be sharp in the face of constant pressure from their Sounders counterparts.

Seattle is a good team but we came in tonight and played well right from the start, said Dawkins. It was important to show them why we are on top of the league. It was a great result against a good team.

The Earthquakes started with aplomb, and quickly silenced the announced crowd of 38,948 primarily pro-Sounders supporters with a goal in just the 2nd minute of the match. Collecting a pass in the center of the field, forward Alan Gordon turned the ball wide for a trailing Dawkins. The English midfielder cut the ball back across the top of the area and shook loose of two defenders before unleashing a 25 yard bomb that detonated in the upper right corner of the goal to give San Jose a 1-0 lead.

The Sounders equalized in the 14th minute following a deep throw-in near the Earthquakes byline that was turned into the area by Sammy Ochoa. Shedding defender Jason Hernandez and driving toward goal, Ochoa squared the ball across the six-yard box for Zakuani to slam home at the far post to level the score at 1 goal apiece.

In the 30th minute, the Earthquakes retook the lead through a corner kick opportunity. Mehdi Ballouchys in-swinging restart was headed out of the mixer by defender Brad Evans and right to the foot of Victor Bernardez. The big defender sent a hard cross toward goal where Wondolowski redirected the ball past a helpless Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning to put San Jose up 2-1.

Playing an all-hands-on-deck defense for the better part of the second half, the Earthquakes denied the Sounders at every scoring chance. With the final whistle, San Jose stretched their unbeaten streak to 5 games and pushed their season points total to 60. Coupled with a draw by Sporting Kansas City earlier in the day, the Earthquakes widened their lead in the MLS Supporters Shield race to 5 points. San Jose returns to Buck Shaw Stadium next Saturday night to host FC Dallas.

Quakes crushed in Vancouver, eliminated from MLS Cup Playoffs

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Quakes crushed in Vancouver, eliminated from MLS Cup Playoffs

BOX SCORE

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.