Earthquakes

Wondo's PK lifts Quakes past Sounders

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Wondo's PK lifts Quakes past Sounders

BOX SCORE
The Earthquakes moved into first place in the Western Conference with a 1-0 win at Seattle Sounders FC. Chris Wondolowski converted a first half penalty kick for the lone goal and his fourth goal of the season, and was supported by a robust defensive effort by his defense. Jon Busch made a number of crucial saves, while Victor Bernardez once again justified his acquisition.San Jose head coach Frank Yallop made one change from the lineup that defeated Toronto 3-0 last weekend, replacing Colombian playmaker Tressor Moreno with the energetic Rafael Baca. Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid, meanwhile, included Cal alumnus Servando Carrasco in place of the injured Brad Evans.
Seattle threatened in the first minute after a Ramiro Corrales giveaway, but Victor Bernardez strong in the center of defense for throughout the start of the season snuffed out the danger.The Earthquakes broke a deadlock in the midfield when Steven Beitashour found Steven Lenhart at the far post, but Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning was able to extend a hand and corral Lenhart's cross.After a brief spell of Earthquakes pressure, they made a breakthrough after referee Michael Kadlechek whistled adjudged Seattle defender Marc Burch to have tripped Lenhart in the box, resulting in a penalty kick. Wondolowski stepped up and put the ball to Gspurning's left to put the Earthquakes up 1-0 in the 24th minute.Wondolowski had a chance to double San Jose's advantage a few minutes later as Sam Cronin found him in the center of the area, but he aimed his shot straight at Gspurning. On the other end, Jon Busch made a diving save on an Alonso header to keep San Jose in the lead.The Earthquakes managed to keep the lead for the rest of the first half, though they lost Ramiro Corrales with an injury to his right knee, forcing Yallop to bring in Jason Hernandez at center back, moving Morrow to center back.Seattle pressured early in the second half, but was denied by a strong defensive effort from San Jose. The Earthquakes then turned the tables and nearly scored in the 57th minute, as Sam Cronin burst into the box, but fired his shot just wide of the far post.Fredy Montero nearly equalized with 20 minutes left as he turned a free kick on goal, but Busch came up big once more, diving to his right to deny the Colombian, then collecting a followup effort.Wondolowski could have finished the game off 15 minutes from time as Cronin set him up again, but the Earthquakes' forward chose to poke the ball in at the near post, allowing Gspurning to make the save.With the clock ticking down, a tidy interchange between Seattle's forwards allowed Montero to unleash the Sounders' 15th shot of the evening, but Busch came up with the save once again, pushing the ball around the post.The Earthquakes managed to hold on to their fragile lead through injury time despite intense pressure from Seattle, allowing them to score an essential early season victory.

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.