Earthquakes defeat the Galaxy

25 08 2010

So, it’s super late — but it’s worth posting because it is a monster win for San Jose.

Busch saves the day for Earthquakes
By Julio Lara Daily Journal Staff
It’s been an up-and-down year for the San Jose Earthquakes — but they might just have hit their peak.
In what has to be seen as one of the biggest wins since their return to Major League Soccer, San Jose scored early and held on to beat the L.A. Galaxy, the team with the best record in MLS, 1-0, in front a record crowd at Buck Shaw stadium.

The win, coupled with a Colorado loss, propels the Quakes right back into the playoff picture with 29 points.

“For us to get a clean sheet against a team like that, it shows the character we have in our dressing room right now,” said San Jose head coach Frank Yallop. “We picked up three valuable points today. It’s not about how you do it, it’s about getting it done.”

How they did it shouldn’t come as a surprise anymore to anyone that follows the league — with their 8th home shutout in 2010 the Quakes have demonstrated that there might be a tougher team to score on at home than San Jose.

In their latest win the defensive conversation begins and ends with goalkeeper Jon Busch, who was anointed the starter earlier this week after Joe Cannon went down with an ankle injury.

The nine-year MLS veteran was superb between the posts for the Earthquakes, making several key saves including a pair on Landon Donovan, the U.S team star, who is loved and hated around theses parts.

“We knew we could play with them,” Busch said. “They’re probably the best team in the league right now (but) we knew we could compete with them.”

Call it the rivalry, or maybe it’s that San Jose knew that Saturday marked a big stretch of games that could determine their postseason aspirations, but the Quakes seem to have a little extra in the tank when they’ve played against the Galaxy.

Saturday marked the second time that an early goal has fueled San Jose. In Los Angeles, Bobby Convey put the Earthquakes ahead in the second minute. On Saturday Chris Wondolowski was the benefactor of a defensive miscommunication by the Galaxy in the 4th minute.

After receiving a pass by Arturo Alvarez, Convey crossed the ball into the L.A. 18. Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts started for the ball but then let up and Wondolowski found himself alone on the end line with the ball at his feet — to his credit San Jose’s leading scorer still had to execute a shot on a difficult angle to convert the score.

Down 1-0, the Galaxy, who came back twice against the Earthquakes in late July to steal a draw, went to work. But at the end of their best efforts was Busch.

Due to injuries, San Jose is still trying to patch things up on their backline — and that showed Saturday.

Three times L.A. was gift-wrapped goals on defensive lapses by San Jose but none greater than in the 39th minute when Donovan was 1-on-1 against Busch. The San Jose keeper went low and to his left to make a marvelous save.

“If that isn’t the save of the week, there must be some amazing save,” Wondolowski said.

“I kind of block everything out,” said Busch on his approach to 1-v-1 opportunities. “I drift off into Jon Busch Land and today, it was a good place to be.”

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Earthquakes beat the Wizards

15 08 2010

UPDATE:
For those wondering, Jason Hernandez received a red card in the 88th minute for “violent conduct.” He called it a spur of the moment thing — he said the guy he clocked with an elbow was asking it for it  — it wouldn’t surprise me honestly, Kansas City was diving the entire night.

———————- 

Busy weekend continues with a nice 1-0 win for the Earthquakes Saturday night against Kansas City. Goal by Chris Wondolowski in the 35th minute for the difference. I’m posting the story I filed today and a link to it online tomorrow when it’s officially out. Also, there’s video of Frank Yallop below and Chris talking briefly about his goal at the bottom of this post. Peace out.

Quakes back on the winning track

By Julio Lara, Daily Journal Staff

Nothing like a win to makes things all better.

Coming into Saturday’s game against the Kansas City Wizards, the San Jose Earthquakes were reeling — winners of only one of their past seven games, the Quakes were bruised mentally, battered physically and seemingly put together by duct tape due to injury.

Injuries to the likes of Ramiro Corrales, Chris Leitch, Steven Beltashour and Ike Oparra forced head coach Frank Yallop to put together a starting-11 that featured newcomers Tim Ward and Khari Stephenson and move players like Bobby Convey from their conventional positions to spots were the team was in need.

But if there’s one thing San Jose has shown this season is that Yallop can prepare his team to play defense, especially at home. And that’s what it took Saturday night — an exceptional defensive performance, highlighted by the play of goalkeeper Joe Cannon, and a timely goal by Chris Wondolowski propelled San Jose to a huge 1-0 win over the visiting Wiz.

“I’m very happy for our guys,” Yallop said. “I’m very pleased with the three points. And it puts us right back in the (playoff) picture and that’s all we needed to see.”

It was a game the Quakes needed to win, coming off a heart-breaking loss to the Colorado Rapids the week before in which an own-goal did them in.

San Jose came out like they knew that. Offensively in the first half, the Earthquakes created a handful of chances throughout — by the 30th minute, Cornell Glen alone had three clear goal-scoring opportunities but failed on all of them.

But Wondolowski came to the rescue in the 35th minute, one-timing a pretty lob from the newly-acquired Stephenson inside the Kansas City box for the 1-0 lead. It was Wondolowski’s team-leading 7th goal.

“He put right on a platter,” Wondolowski said of Stephenson’s pass. “Goal scoring is contagious. Hopefully I can get back on a steak and get it going again. It’s great to get that feeling back.”

The second half belonged to Cannon and the line judge.

For his part, Cannon came up with some significant saves to preserve the team’s fifth home shutout — none bigger than his save of Teal Bunbury in the 59th minute.

Three times in the second half the Wiz had goals disallowed by the line judge’s flag on an offside call, much to the chagrin of the Kansa City bench. But despite a red card to Jason Hernandez in the 88th minute and four minutes of stoppage time, the Quakes had just enough to hold on for the victory and the much-needed three points.

Cannon and Wondolowski will get the headlines with their clutch play, but several Quakes performed very well Saturday night. Convey was terrific playing left back, despite a mistake early in the game that almost cost his team a goal. Brandon McDonald was moved to a central defender position for the game and performed very much to Yallop’s liking. Hernandez was also solid defensively and Arturo Alvarez created chances from his midfield position the entire evening.

Huge doesn’t begin to describe the win — not only were they reeling, but a loss or draw with the league’s best team, the L.A Galaxy, coming in next week, would have surely shut the door on San Jose’s playoff aspirations in 2010.

But now, playing with the confidence that comes after a win, the showdown the Galaxy (a team they tied 2-2 in Los Angeles) appears to be a winnable game for San Jose.

And that would be even bigger than huge.





Earthquakes sleepy against Seattle

3 08 2010

It’s been a while … a long while, BUT I’VE BEEN BUSY!

Anyways, posting my story from this weekend’s game against Seattle. Bad loss, ugly loss, for your San Jose Earthquakes.

Sleepy against Seattle
By Julio Lara Daily Journal Staff
Seldom will a team play a “must-win” game in the middle of their season.
But often there are games that a team will look back on at season’s end as a turning point — good or bad. 

The San Jose Earthquakes had such a game Saturday night, and looked flat against the Seattle Sounders, this after playing some inspired soccer against the western conference leading L.A Galaxy a little more than a week before, dropping a 1-0 decision to the visitors.

The loss keeps the Quakes at 23 points with 14 games left to play — Seattle jumps their west rivals in the points standings with 25.

“I thought it was our worst performance this season, definitely,” said Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop. “From the opening whistle we didn’t seem to have a real idea and some scrappiness. And it was, really disappointing.”

The Sounders, who came in having played three more games than the Quakes, looked like the team in need of the three points. From the on-set of play they came out and attacked the Quakes, leaving San Jose to react and counter an aggressive Seattle team — it’s a style that Yallop acknowledged does not suit the Earthquakes well, especially at home.

“We just didn’t move the ball quickly,” Yallop said. “We were reacting to everything rather than anticipating. There’s a big difference there. You got to anticipate and be on the move and read plays rather than wait then react to wherever the ball goes. It’s too late. We were very static and on our heels most of the game.”

Seattle pressured the Quakes from the start of the match but maybe the moment of the game came early for San Jose when Cornell Glen was one-on-one against Seattle keeper Kasey Keller on the left side of the 18 but came up short on a shot hit right at him. San Jose didn’t know it at the time, but it would turn out to be their best chance to score.

The Sounders looked like the superior side throughout and their frequent knocking of the San Jose goal netted them the lead in the 26th minute when Fredy Montero smoothly headed in a Sanna Nyassi cross for the only score of the match. Earthquakes keeper Jon Busch was no match for Montero’s header as the midfielder made a run down the heart of the San Jose defense and struck the ball with no opposition. It was one of those goals that looked too easy.

To Busch’s credit the San Jose keeper was the man of the match for his team. Seattle had seven shots on goal for the game — many of which Busch had to fantastically push to the side to prevent the match from getting out of reach.

Still, it was like Yallop said — San Jose had no answer for the Seattle defense or midfield in the first half.

Substitutions in the second half looked to solidify San Jose a bit. Up top Ryan Johnson replaced an absent Scott Sealy and in the midfield Arturo Alvarez came and netted the Earthquakes with a couple of opportunities. Chris Wondolowski, who came into the match leading San Jose with six goals, was brought on in the 74th minute as well.

But it was to no avail. The Quakes did have some chances late, most noticeably on a right-footed shot by Bobby Convey that sailed a little high.

“Tonight we didn’t do anything well really,” Yallop said. “It’s a massive game for us (and) we just laid down and died to be honest,” he said.






Toronto finds the way to San Jose

31 05 2010

Corny headline? Yeah, I know.

So Toronto came into San Jose and found a way to win. Preki has his team playing well and they took advantage of some breaks to get the W. Some notes on the game that weren’t in the story. 
• Laugher of the day goes to Bobby Convey. Late in the game, with the Quakes in full out offensive mode, the ball went out of play for a throw-in near the Toronto bench. Preki got his hand on the ball and as soon as Convey got the ball from the ball boy, Preki tossed another ball into the field of play. Convey didn’t take too well to that and threw a fastball in the vicinity  of Preki which smashed against the boards. Convey for a yellow for that, Preki was thrown out of the game.
• I’ve included video of Joe Cannon in the locker room after the game. I mention a little about the sun in the story but he goes into it a little more. 

That said, the story can be found here

‘Quakes lose to Toronto
By Julio Lara Daily Journal Staff
The recent resurgence of the San Jose Earthquakes hit what they hope will only be a speed bump Saturday night with a 3-1 loss to Toronto FC.
The Quakes were admittedly flat for the game’s first 60 minutes and were done in by some bad luck and questionable officiating. That said San Jose’s performance to start the game was uncharacteristic of the team fans have seen in 2010 – especially at home.

“I thought we were flat. I can’t put a finger on it really,” said San Jose head coach Frank Yallop. “The energy wasn’t good I thought, for whatever reason. It just wasn’t our night.”

Toronto FC came into the match near the top of the eastern conference standings – marking a two-game stretch where the Quakes will face off against the cream of the eastern crop. And while San Jose didn’t play too poorly and fell behind on two fluke-style goals, they cannot afford to come out like that again against Columbus Wednesday night.

After possessing the ball for the majority of the first half, Mother Nature did the Quakes in the 31st minute. It was a beautiful night in Santa Clara, but the positioning of the sun gave the San Jose defense fits in the first half and led to a miscommunication in the back on a long, high ball to Toronto’s Chad Barrett. Joe Cannon was out of position, charging toward the ball near his 18 and collided with Barrett who somehow managed to tip the ball forward and over the goal line for the 1-0 lead. 

“I just couldn’t see anything,” Cannon said. “I’m trying to assess the situation in a split second moment but it’s kind of like having blinders on. Last year I don’t think I ever had to deal with a full half of that sun in my face and I think everyone struggled with it.”

On the offensive the Quakes could muster very little despite their possession. Down 1-0 at the half, the task of coming back doubled in the 66th minute on goal by Toronto’s Dwayne De Rosario. A long pass from Toronto’s defensive third found De Rosario, who appeared to be offside, but with the flag down, De Rosario was able to tip the ball past Cannon was the 2-0 advantage. 

The goal awakened the Quakes, who were in full offensive mode from that moment on. Wave after wave of San Jose attacks made their way toward the Toronto goal and in the 76th minute the Earthquakes finally broke through. 

Bobby Convey tallied his sixth assist of the season on a corner kick that found the head of Ramiro Corrales for his first goal of 2010.

San Jose kept knocking on the door, applying constant pressure on the Toronto defense to try and get the equalizer but it wasn’t to be. 

De Rosario got his second goal of the night on an empty netter as Cannon had come up on a late indirect kick to give the Quakes an extra player on the offensive. But the gamble backfired and De Rosario was able to track down a clearance by his defense and tap the ball into the San Jose net for Toronto’s third goal of the night.

San Jose will try to rebound Wednesday night when they face the Columbus Crew, the top team in the eastern conference.





Earthquakes Cruise past NY Red Bulls

10 05 2010

San Jose made it look easy against the Red Bulls Saturday night at Buck Shaw, handing New York a 4-0 beat down. Couples of notes from the game before you read the game story (and give Frank Yallop a little time with the video):

• The Sharks locked up a spot in the WCF last night with a 2-1 win. As we headed in to interview the Earthquake players after the game the T.V in the dressing room had the game on. I, and the rest of the media, members watched the final five minutes. My favorite part was when a toweled Joe Cannon, after giving fist bumps to his teammates, sat in front of us on one of the recliners and caught some of the game like a true SJ fan.
• Shout out to the Earthquakes fans — the paid attendance was 9,711 … not too shabby considering a certain team in the Bay Area who’s having trouble getting people to the go to their park. Even today, Sunday, with Dallas Braden’s perfect game, only 12,000 made it to the Coliseum. Step your game up, Oakland. San Jose fans have shown they’ll fill up the seats … even for soccer. Can you imagine how many fans they’d bring if they had a team in San Jose?
• Another shout out to the San Jose Earthquake players. They make a great effort to reach out to the fans. Post game you can see several signing hundreds of autographs as they trickle into the locker room. You can’t ask more from a sports franchise. Story time. Stick until the end and catch some Chris Wondolowski video.

Earthquakes cruise past the Red Bulls
By Julio Lara * Daily Journal Staff

 Two weeks in a row a team with double-digits points has walked into Buck Shaw stadium to face the San Jose Earthquakes. And for two straight weeks, they’ve left with nothing — no goals, zero wins.

Their latest performance against the New York Red Bulls, a team that came into Saturday’s match with a 5-1-0 record, was the most impressive yet for the Quakes. An early break led to a man advantage for 77 minutes of play and San Jose took full advantage cruising to a 4-0 victory.

It’s been a while since you can use “cruising” and “Earthquakes” in the same sentence; but that’s exactly what San Jose did Saturday night.

“I think tonight is exactly how I wanted (us) to play,” said head coach Frank Yallop. “I think we have to, especially at home, we have to be the aggressor. This team is starting to believe that they can dominate teams here. I think we have to make it difficult for anybody to play here.”

The win moves the Earthquakes to 4-2-0 and 12 points — a total they didn’t reach until 14 games into the 2009 season.

It was a great win considering that at times, it’s difficult to do what you’re “supposed” to in sports.

Saturday night the Earthquakes were expected to compete at home against one of the East’s best teams — but that all changed 13 minutes in when Luke Sassano’s reckless foul on Bobby Convey led to a straight red card and expulsion from the game.

Now with a man advantage the whole dynamic of the game changed — anything less than a win would have been disappointing.

San Jose wasted no time in putting the pressure on New York. Ryan Johnson and Andre Ruiz had good scoring opportunities midway through the first half with the Quakes dominating possession.

Despite their play the Quakes looked like they were headed into halftime to nothing to show for their work. That is, until their last offensive wave in the 44th minute. In it, Convey curled a beautiful ball to Johnson who one-timed it into the New York net for the 1-0 lead. As passes go, Convey’s couldn’t have been hand-placed any better. It was the start of a terrific night for the midfielder, who finished the contest with three assists.

“It was just a good build-up play by us,” Johnson said. “Those things are what we work on at practice. It’s nice that it’s finally paying off. I can’t be nothing but satisfied tonight.”

The goal was the first of the season for Johnson who led the Quakes in scores in 2009.

San Jose might have played their best offensive half of the year in the game’s final 45 minutes.

Their three goals were all scored in different ways, displaying great versatility on offense.

The first score came on a terrific individual effort by Joey Gjertsen in the 54th minute that featured a great cut back to his right and a strong finish from just inside the box that snuck underneath the New York goalkeeper.

The second was a sensational transition goal in which Convey led a fast-break style offense down three-quarters of the pitch. Ramiro Corrales received credit for a pinpoint low cross that Chris Wondolowski tapped in at the doorstep for the 3-0 advantage. The goal was the fourth in four starts for the white-hot Wondolowski.

“You have to chalk (the goal) up to the teammates,” Wondolowski said. “Ramiro just put it on the platter for me (with a) great ball across and I just had to tap it in.”

The exclamation point of the half came in the 85th minute on a corner kick that Bobby Burling headed in for his first of the season.

At the heart of all the San Jose scores was Convey, who is enjoying arguably his best season as an Earthquake.

“He’s right back to where he was three, four years ago (when he was) playing in England,” Yallop said. “He feels good now so expect good things from Bobby over the season. And they will be there.”

Lost in the offensive output by the Earthquakes was their defensive effort. Joe Cannon collected his third straight MLS shutout at home. He faced only two shots in the second half.

“Obviously the red card for them makes a difference in the match,” Yallop said. “But I think sometimes you don’t tend to play well when that happens. I think we played our best game, just in ball movement and the desire to win it.”

“It’s easy to feel confident when the team is playing so well,” Wondolowski said. “I’m just able to do my part, just try to add some energy, try to keep the ball for us. The team does a great job, fighting, scraping, and today I think we kept the ball really well.”





Wasn’t Pretty But Earthquakes Win

3 05 2010

Last season the Colorado Rapids were a pain in the Earthquakes’ backside. It wasn’t pretty Saturday night, but San Jose held on. Story follows along with a little video from the post game press conference with head coach Frank Yallop. You can catch it tomorrow at a news rack near you or here.

By Julio Lara

Daily Journal Staff

 After two seasons of hanging out near the bottom of the standings the San Jose Earthquakes will take the W’s any way they can get them — they’re all huge.

Saturday night’s 1-0 win against the Colorado Rapids was a prime example of a game that the Quakes did not play all that well in but somehow found a way to win.

And if you ask anyone in the San Jose locker room, they’ll take winning ugly over losing pretty any day of the week.

“It wasn’t the best game I thought that we played all year but it was a workman’s-like game,” said Chris Wondolowski, the man responsible for giving the Quakes the win.  “And to honest it’s one the proudest wins I’ve had,” he said.

“We didn’t play particularly well, but, fantastic result,” said head coach Frank Yallop. “We had a few days where we’ve played pretty well and loss so to play not-great and get three points is very rewarding for us as a team.”

Colorado has been a head-scratcher as of late for the Quakes. Last season the Rapids stole a pair of points from San Jose in games that the Earthquakes led. So to come away with the victory might be further indication that San Jose is actually turning things around in 2010.

“I think we showed good resilience,” said goalkeeper Joe Cannon, who recorded his second shutout of the season — a feat the Quakes didn’t accomplish until late August of 2009. “(We were) in really good shape all night, really good discipline. We didn’t give them much. I think the maturity of this team is growing.”

The match was a defensively battle. The teams combined for only seven shots on goal, five of which belonged to the Quakes despite Colorado controlling possession for the majority of the game.

With their touches few and far between the Quakes were left to make the most of their opportunities.

They did just that in the 33rd minute on a pair of great passes and an even better finish by Wondolowski.

Ramiro Corrales’ pass from the defensive third was tipped by Ryan Johnson near midfield and found Wondolowski who fired a shot past Colorado keeper Matt Pickens. The missile struck the crossbar and ended up inside the net for the game’s only goal.

The goal was Wondolowski’s third in three games.

“Wondo is a good player, that’s the reason he’s here,” Yallop said. “So I’m very happy for him. He’s an unsung hero, doesn’t get a bunch of press and doesn’t say a word, just works really really hard so it’s a nice for a fellow like him to get the headlines and he deserves it.”

The Earthquakes defense did enough to hold on in the second half taking advantage of the lead to tighten things up even further and Cannon was never really threatened.

“I think we match up pretty well with Colorado,” said defender Jason Hernandez. “We like that match-up (and) for whatever reason we’re able to deal with their pace up top with Omar (Cummings) and Conor (Casey). We were really able to neutralize them,” he said.