Earthquakes

Wondolowski's hat-trick propels 'Quakes past Rapids

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Wondolowski's hat-trick propels 'Quakes past Rapids

A Chris Wondolowski hat-trick paced the San Jose Earthquakes to a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids at Dicks Sporting Goods Park Saturday night. With the win, the Earthquakes clinched the regular season Western Conference title and a number one seed in the MLS Cup playoffs.

Less than two minutes into the match, Marvin Chavez opened the scoring for San Jose against Colorado, and Wondolowski followed with his 23rd, 24th, and 25th goals of the season. A late red card shown to defender Jason Hernandez resulted in a penalty kick for the Rapids that was converted by Andre Akpan to prevent the home side from being shut out.

With three goals scored, Wondolowski raised his San Jose career total to 62 goals and passed Ronald Cerritos to become the Earthquakes franchise all-time goal scorer. With two more goals in the teams remaining two regular season games, Wondolowski would draw level with Roy Lassiter for the single-season record of 27 goals scored.

The victory moved the Earthquakes six points clear of Sporting Kansas City at the top of the Supporters Shield standings. A loss by Sporting to the Columbus Crew on Sunday would virtually clinch the Shield or San Jose.

Following their road draw with FC Dallas last weekend, the Earthquakes refigured their line-up in search of a victory against the struggling Rapids. Head coach Frank Yallop unveiled a Starting XI that featured the teams three leading scorers this season: Wondolowski, Steven Lenhart, and Alan Gordon. With such offensive power on the field, it did not take long for the visitors to capitalize.

In the second minute, Sam Cronin sent a long free kick into the Rapids area that was cleared right to the feet of Chavez. The Honduran midfielder, who will depart directly from Colorado to join his countrys national team for a pair of World Cup qualifying matches this week, drilled a shot through traffic that left goalkeeper Matt Pickens flat-footed.

The Earthquakes doubled their lead in the 11th minute through Wondolowski, who chested a cross from Rafael Baca past Pickens for what would eventually be counted as his 11th game winning goal of the season.

Colorado twice had opportunities to get on the board in the first half but Justin Morrow cleared a Luis Zapata chipped shot off the line in the 30th minute and Ramiro Corrales nicked a shot from Omar Cummings beyond the far post in the 43rd minute.

Wondolowski netted his second goal of the game in 51st minute after a cross into the area deflected into his path in front of goal. Defender Drew Moor made a touch on the ball as the shot rifled on target, and Pickens was unable to make a try on the goal.
The MLS Golden Boot leader completed his hat-trick in the 83rd minute when the Colorado defense completely lost track of him at the top of the area. Cronin, spying the wide open Wondolowski fed him the ball with plenty of time to turn and shoot on target. The goal extended the Earthquakes lead to 4-0 on the night.

The Rapids pulled one back in stoppage time following a red card to Hernandez and a penalty kick conversation from Akpan. As the last defender on a breakaway, Hernandez tackled Akpan in the area to earn the ejection. The Earthquakes defender will be required to sit out the teams next match.

After a two week break in the schedule, San Jose returns to action on October 21 in a home match against the LA Galaxy at Buck Shaw Stadium. They close out their season with a trip away to Portland the following weekend.

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.