Earthquakes

Wondo with the winner again in Quakes' 2-0 victory

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Wondo with the winner again in Quakes' 2-0 victory

BOX SCORE

The San Jose Earthquakes continued their dominating 2012 season with a convincing 2-0 win against Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center. Goals either side of halftime from Chris Wondolowski and Alan Gordon paced the visitors to their 7th road victory, their first since late June, and 17th overall victory of the year.

Wondolowski scored his 19th goal of the season, a new personal best, on a penalty kick in the 40th minute after Gordon had been fouled inside the area by Chivas defender John Valencia. Gordon scored his 12th goal of the season in the 49th minute when Wondolowski returned the favor with a perfectly weighted assist at the top of the area.

In addition to his 19 goals, which keeps him comfortably ahead in the race for the MLS Golden Boot, Wondolowski registered his 7th assist of the season on Gordons goal. In the star strikers seven previous seasons in MLS, Wondolowski had registered a grand total of 7 assists.

After 28 regular season games, the Earthquakes have earned 56 points and built an 8 point cushion over the Seattle Sounders atop the Western Conference standings. The victory over Chivas USA also raises San Joses point per game average to 2.00. Only three teams in MLS history have finished the season at or better than that number, and all three captured the Supporters Shield. The Earthquakes did both in the 2005 season.

The Earthquakes traveled to Los Angeles to face Chivas USA for the second time in the last two weeks. The first match was a 4-0 drubbing of the Goats at Buck Shaw Stadium, and Saturdays match at The HDC started off as if it would finish in much the same vein. A starting line-up that was missing speedsters Shea Salinas and Marvin Chavez was designed to gain and possess the ball early and often.

Despite being forced into the role of spectator for much of the early going, Chivas had the first scoring chance of the night through forward Casey Townsend. From a cross into the area in the 23rd minute, Townsend snapped a header toward the post that goalkeeper Jon Busch did well to turn to the side. Busch was up to the task seconds later to save another Chivas attempt on goal.

The match turned back in the Earthquakes favor soon after and they were rewarded for their patience in the attacking third when a rash off-the-ball challenge from defender Valencia crumpled Gordon to the turf. After conferring with his assistant referee, head referee Chris Penso pointed to the spot and awarded the Earthquakes a penalty kick. Wondolowski calmly slotted the ball past goalkeeper Dan Kennedy in the 40th minute to put San Jose up 1-0.

The Earthquakes doubled their lead in the 49th minute following a beautiful sequence of possession in the Chivas half of the field. A quick give-and-go between Justin Morrow and Simon Dawkins along the left touchline sprang Morrow into the attacking third. He squared a pass across the top of the area that Mehdi Ballouchy did well to dummy for Wondolowski. Playing selfless soccer, Wondolowski turned the ball into the path of Gordon to easily slot home past the wrong-footed Kennedy. The build-up to the goal was a great example of how well the team had possessed the ball all game.

Busch and the Earthquakes defense held tight the rest of the way, and San Jose finished off their second straight shutout victory over Chivas USA. The clean sheet was the seventh of the season for Busch, and the win was the first over the Goats at The Home Depot Center since the Earthquakes franchise returned to MLS in 2008.

A busy week continues for San Jose as they host the Portland Timbers on Wednesday night at Buck Shaw Stadium before traveling to the Pacific Northwest on Saturday to face the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field.

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.