Wondo's hat trick leads Quakes to 5-0 rout of RSL


Wondo's hat trick leads Quakes to 5-0 rout of RSL

If there was any doubt as to which team deserved to be at the top of the MLS Western Conference standings, it was erased with the San Jose Earthquakes 5-0 dismantling of Real Salt Lake. Chris Wondolowski netted a hat trick for the Quakes, with Alan Gordon and Simon Dawkins adding to the score.

The victory, played out in front of a Buck Shaw Stadium crowd of 10,744, was the Quakes' third of the season over RSL and helped them extend their lead in the race for the Supporters Shield. In addition, Wondolowskis three goals extended his lead in the MLS Golden Boot to a league-topping 17 goals.

Most of the damage against Real Salt Lake came after captain Kyle Beckerman was sent off in the 58th minute for a straight red card offense against Quakes midfielder Sam Cronin. The Earthquakes were leading comfortably by a score of 1-0 at the time, and quickly built their advantage to five goals over the next twenty minutes. The five-goal margin of victory marked the largest in franchise history, achieved on three other occasions.

With the setting sun shining directly into their eyes, the Real Salt Lake defense had some tense moments early on. A misplayed clearance by Jamison Olave in the ninth minute bounced to Wondolowski just outside the area. He carried the ball toward goal and unleashed a low shot that eluded RSL keeper Nick Rimando, but skidded just beyond the far post.

Wondolowski would not miss his next opportunity, as the Earthquakes' MLS All-Star First XI selection tallied his 15th goal of the season in the 18th minute. A corner kick from Marvin Chavez was headed into the mixer by Gordon and redirected toward goal by Justin Morrow. With Rimando rooted to his line, Wondolowski executed a perfect diving header at the far post to give the Earthquakes a one goal lead.

The Earthquakes threatened to double their lead in the 26th minute on a counterattack, but a wide ball to Chavez was poorly crossed into the midsection of RSL defender Kenny Mansally. In an ensuing retaliation tackle against Mansally, Chavez was shown a yellow card.

The match took another turn in favor of the Earthquakes in the 56th minute, when a near melee broke out following a rough challenge on Cronin by RSL midfielder Beckerman. With players jostling near the centerline, referee Allen Chapman showed a straight red card to Beckerman. Additional yellow cards were shown to Morrow for the Earthquakes and Fabian Espindola for Salt Lake.

San Jose didnt need long to double their advantage when, in the 62nd minute, a yellow card foul on Mansally gave the Earthquakes a free kick deep in RSL territory. Chavez delivered a low kick that was headed by Victor Bernandez off the inside of the far post. Gordon, following up the play, made the simplest of touches to send the ball into the back of the net for his seventh goal of the season and a 2-0 Earthquakes lead.

Wondolowski scored his second goal of the night in the 72nd minute, when he was able to sneak behind the defense and redirect a Shea Salinas cross with the outside of his boot just inside the near post. The goal was Wondolowskis 16th of the season, matching his entire total for the 2011 season when he shared the MLS lead with Dwayne De Rosario.

As the game devolved more into an Earthquakes shooting drill, second half substitute Dawkins put his name on the scoresheet with a goal in the 79th minute. A corner kick from Salinas was redirected in the area by Wondolowski for the Tottenham loanee to blast into the roof of the net for a 4-0 lead.

Wondolowski completed his hat trick in the 80th minute with a one-on-one finish against besieged RSL keeper Rimando. After second-half substitute Khari Stephenson threaded a through ball to Wondolowski, he calmly shot the ball low and to the far post for the Earthquakes' fifth goal of the night.

The Earthquakes next host FC Dallas at Buck Shaw Stadium on Wednesday, July 18.

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.