Quakes fall to Union 1-0 on late penalty kick


Quakes fall to Union 1-0 on late penalty kick

Saturday, April 30, 2011
Posted: 6:14 p.m. Updated: 8:16 p.m.MATCH STATS MLS SCOREBOARD

Ryan Bright Contributor


CHESTER, Pa. -- Down a man, thanks to a first-half red card to Jordan Harvey, the Union easily could have sat on the one-point and tie or even worse, crumble and suffer the loss. Instead, they decided to show off their mettle at the expense of the struggling San Jose Earthquakes.

Pushing the visiting Earthquakes to their defensive limit all contest, the Union finally got on the board with a penalty kick earned by midfielder Amobi Okugo in the 76th minute. Sebastien Le Toux lined up and fired the ball high over the left-diving Jon Busch to give the Union the 1-0 lead and eventual victory, Saturday afternoon at PPL Park.

We fought like warriors, Okugo said. We fought hard and we played really well in the second half. It didnt even seem like we were down a man. The most important thing is that we got the win.

The win is their fourth of the season and the Union have banked seven of a possible nine points in their last three games and remain in a battle with the New York Red Bulls for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. It also marked the Union and goalie Faryd Mondragons fourth shutout of the season. They recorded only two in the entire 2010 season.

Its just refreshing, to be honest, said defender Danny Califf. I dont think its surprising, really. But I think we were getting there last year. Its a commitment to defending in order to keep ourselves in games.

With just 15 minutes left in the contest and the Union only fielding 10 men, 20-year-old Okugo decided to make a difference. Finding a seam down the left side of the Earthquakes box, the young prospect carried the ball between defenders and to the goal line. Looking to make a cross and while stumbling, Okugo launched the intended pass into the hands of recovering defender Jason Hernandez, earning the penalty kick on a handball.

Carlos Ruiz made a good layoff, I thought I was going to shoot it, said Okugo. There was a space down the line so I just took it down the line. Luckily, the way he slid, his arm was out.

His hand was out and it hit it, clearly

Hernandez claimed the hand ball was less than intentional.

I had a guy get through, kind of break down the defense, and I went over to try and make a tackle to block the cross. And honestly I didnt even know about it. I kind of just felt it, and the ref pointed to the spot.

While the referees gave the Union an opportunity to win in the second half, they took a chunk out of the home teams hopes in the first. In the 41st minute of a Union-heavy opening half, Earthquakes defender Chris Leitch attempted a tackle on Harvey near midfield. Unable to remove the ball, Leich, who was on the ground, became tied up at the legs with Harvey, who was still standing. Harvey high-stepped out of the tangle and out of nowhere, received a straight red card from referee Mark Geiger.

According to Peter Nowak, the card was unjustified and will be appealed to the league in hopes that Harvey will not be suspended for teams next game against the Portland Timbers on May 6.

I think everyone saw the replay, said Nowak. I think the replay created very clearly what was the case. And for me, I saw the replay I think we are going to review this and make the right decision.

Forced to play with a man-down roster, Nowak replaced Danny Mwanga with more defensive-minded midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi and Roger Torres for Michael Farfan, who made his MLS debut. Yet, the Union still managed the majority of the offense in the second half, highlighted by two corner kicks and a Ruiz and Le Toux exchange in the opposition's box that was snuffed out by the defense.

I cant praise this group enough, said Nowak. This group plays great, physically and they prepare mentally. They know that at the end of the game they have the points and go home the champions. Its a good thing and its really important for this group to overcome the obstacles that we have with the red card.

The physical contest began to get chippy in the 30th minute, after Okugo was charged a yellow card for a hard foul on on Steven Lenhart. Moments later, Mondragon, who is never short on emotion, got into a jawing match with Quakes midfielder Brandon McDonald, a confrontation that led to a pushing match between the two squads. Both players received a yellow card.

But the match didnt start out bogged down by referee interjection.

The Union began the contest looking to push the offense with both Mwanga and Torres in the lineup and midfielders Miglioranzi and Justin Mapp on the bench -- a high-powered setup typically used by Nowak late in games when his team needs to milk a goal.

And for the early going, it worked, as the Union held the majority of possession and pressure.

Coach changed up our tactics a bit with Roger Torres, Keon Daniel and Seba (Sebastien Le Toux) in front of us to try and exploit their weaknesses a little bit, said Okugo. I thought we did a fairly good job of maintaining possession and playing our game.

The Earthquakes pushed back in the 21st and 22nd minute, earning consecutive corner kicks. However, taking both, Anthony Ampaipitakwongs attempts into the Union box were both turned away with ease. Mondragon made just one save in the shutout, as the Quakes lacked sustained pressure or any good chances on goal.

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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.