Wondolowski leads Quakes to 3-0 win in Toronto


Wondolowski leads Quakes to 3-0 win in Toronto

Despite some rough moments, the Earthquakes left Toronto with a 3-0 win. Chris Wondolowskis two goals sandwiched an effort from Shea Salinas, though Wondolowski missed a pair of opportunities to get a hat trick. Sam Cronin was instrumental on both sides of the ball for San Jose, putting up a strong performance against his former team. "It feels good, great to get the win most importantly, much needed," Cronin said. "Our first road win, good to set a precedent continuing into next weekend's game in Seattle, who is a tough team to play on the road."Tressor Moreno was handed his first MLS start by Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop, and Marvin Chavez returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench in the teams 1-0 loss to Houston.The Earthquakes looked bright early, and Steven Lenhart had the ball in the back of the net just four minutes in, but he was whistled offside. Shea Salinas also had an early strike on goal, but it was saved by Toronto goalkeeper Milos Kocic. However, the Earthquakes did end up taking an early lead in the ninth minute. Marvin Chavezs corner was initially cleared, but ended up at the feet of Sam Cronin, who curled the cross in for Wondolowski to head the ball home. After the goal, Toronto started to come into the game more, but had a tough time finding space in the Earthquakes penalty area. Cronin admitted the team struggled at times in the first half, though."We were quite happy with the early goal especially in the first ten minutes we were on top of them," he said. "The rest of the half they pressed us and we had a difficult time keeping the ball."

Eventually, the home team would get some chances as Luis Silva saw an effort rise over the bar and Ryan Johnson couldnt get a shot off under pressure from Victor Bernardez. Toronto finally got its first shot on target late in the first half as Ryan Johnson hammered a low shot from the edge of the area, but it was right at Jon Busch, who saved it comfortably. Dutch forward Danny Koevermans came on at halftime and nearly made an immediate impact. The Designated Player took the ball around Busch but too close to the endline, and Steven Beitashour was able to clear his cross. Toronto continued to apply pressure with Koevermans and Joao Plata at the center of things. However, just as Koevermans went close with a header, the Earthquakes bagged their second. Plata slipped, allowing Beitashour to burst forward and play Marvin Chavez through on goal. Instead of shooting, Chavez pulled it back, and Salinas powered the ball home with his left foot after a late run into the area. "We came in trying to get behind their back four and we accomplished that quite a few times especially in the second half." Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop said. "It's nice to see what you work all week in practice come out in the game."Torontos defensive woes continued, and 11 minutes after Salinas goal the Earthquakes made it three. Cronin who was at the heart of things all game scooped a ball over the top for Rafael Baca, who found Wondolowski at the far post for the finish. The goal was Wondolowski's sixth against Toronto, and he has now scored more goals against Toronto than any other team. Five of his goals against Toronto have come on the road.

"It's not just BMO field he is good at; Chris is good everywhere," Yallop said. "He can just sniff out the chances and is very clean with his finishes on any surface. Whether it be heading it, driving it, tucking it, whatever he needs to do he scores."Wondolowski should have had a hat trick 15 minutes from time, but scooped his finish well over the bar off a cross from Lenhart. Their roles switched just a couple minutes later as Lenharts deflected effort from a Wondolowski cross was acrobatically turned over by Kocic. The Earthquakes forward pairing continued to torment the Toronto defense in the late minutes of the game, but couldnt add to the lead. Wondolowski missed another chance at a hat trick after substitute Simon Dawkins found him at the far post, but he turned his effort onto the post with the goal at his mercy.For more Earthquakes, MLS and world soccer chatter, you can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter: @nicholasrosano

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.