Preview: Cunningham eyes record as Crew host SJ
COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM, Columbus, Ohio
7:30 p.m. ET (ONN; CSN-BA)
July 16, 2011 (WEEK 18; MLS Game 175)
The Columbus Crew return to action after a midseason vacation when the San Jose Earthquakes pay a visit to Crew Stadium on Saturday evening. The Crew have won three of their last four, their last match a dramatic 1-0 victory at Vancouver Whitecaps FC on July 6. The Earthquakes are winless in their last five games, coming off a scoreless draw at home with Philadelphia Union.
REFEREE: Jair Marrufo. SAR (bench): C.J. Morgante; JAR (opposite): Corey Rockwell; 4th: Fotis Bazakos
MLS Career: 116 games; FC/gm: 24.8; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 28; pens: 40
INJURY REPORT: COLUMBUS CREW—OUT: DF Josh Williams (R hip labral tear); MF Dilly Duka (R ankle sprain); DOUBTFUL: DF Shaun Francis (L hamstring strain); MF Rich Balchan (L adductor strain); FW Emilio Renteria (L quad strain) ... SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES—OUT: MF Bobby Convey (L knee contusion); MF Andre Luiz (L knee injury); DF Ike Opara (L foot injury); DOUBTFUL: DF Steven Beitashour (R leg injury)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: SJ: Frank Yallop (head coach; through July 17)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: SJ: Ramiro Corrales
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CLB: Kevin Burns, Tommy Heinemann, Julius James ... SJ: Sam Cronin, Jason Hernandez, Ryan Johnson
ALL-TIME (34 meetings): Crew 18 wins, 60 goals ... Earthquakes 13 wins, 52 goals ... Ties 3
AT COLUMBUS (16 meetings): Crew 12 wins, 28 goals ... Earthquakes 3 wins, 18 goals ... Ties 1
- Goals from Chris Wondolowski, Brandon McDonald and Khari Stephenson led San Jose to a 3-0 win against Columbus in their first meeting this season, May 14 at Buck Shaw Stadium.
- The Earthquakes victory snapped a four-game winless run at home against Columbus.
- The teams played to draws in both meetings a season ago, a 2-2 result at Buck Shaw Stadium and a scoreless tie in Columbus.
- Coaches record: Frank Yallop v CLB: P19 W7 L8 D4 ... Robert Warzycha vs. SJ: P6 W2 L2 D2
5/14: SJ 3, CLB 0 (Wondolowski 12, McDonald 59, Stephenson 62)
- The Earthquakes took control of the match in the second half with three goals in the space of 12 minutes. San Jose opened the scoring when Ryan Johnson put in a cross from the left wing and Chris Wondolowski snuck in at the back post to volley home.
- The Quakes doubled the lead in the 59th minute when Steven Lenhart powered a header toward goal off a Joey Gjertsen corner kick that bounced off the back of Brandon McDonald and into the goal.
- Three minutes later, the lead was 3-0. Bobby Convey found Khari Stephenson through a dummy played by Lenhart as he was clattered into from behind, and Stephenson lashed home a shot from outside the box.
- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-4-2): Jon Busch - Chris Leitch, Brandon McDonald (sent off 79), Jason Hernandez, Bobby Convey - Joey Gjertsen (Anthony Ampaipitakwong 61), Brad Ring (Sam Cronin 72), Khari Stephenson, Ryan Johnson - Chris Wondolowski (Ike Opara 82), Steven Lenhart.
- COLUMBUS CREW (4-2-3-1): William Hesmer - Sebastian Miranda (Andres Mendoza 85), Chad Marshall, Julius James, Rich Balchan - Dejan Rusmir (Emmanuel Ekpo 76), Kevin Burns - Dilly Duka (Tommy Heinemann 66), Eddie Gaven, Robbie Rogers - Emilio Renteria.
The Columbus Crew return to action after 10 days off, their last match a dramatic 1-0 victory against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on July 6 at Empire Field. The Crew have 27 points from 18 games on the season, in third place in the Eastern Conference.
- The game burst to life over the final 20 minutes. In the 72nd minute, Whitecaps FC fullback Alain Rochat was dragged down in the box and midfielder Terry Dunfield stepped up to take the penalty. But Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer read Dunfield's effort, diving to his right to make the stop.
- The home side played a man down for the final 12 minutes as Whitecaps winger Shea Salinas saw red in the 78th minute for a late tackle on fullback Josh Gardner.
- Then with the clock having ticked over into the 90th minute, a corner was cleared just to Josh Gardner at the left corner of the area. He swung in a cross that found Jeff Cunningham unmarked in the area, and the veteran made no mistake in nodding it past Joe Cannon to tie atop the MLS all-time goalscoring charts.
- Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made four changes to the team that fell 2-0 to FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park. Julius James came into central defense for the suspended Andy Iro, and Dejan Rusmir, Eric Gehrig and Robbie Rogers came into midfield for Rich Balchan, Emmanuel Ekpo and Tommy Heinemann.
- COLUMBUS CREW (4-4-2): William Hesmer - Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Julius James, Josh Gardner - Eddie Gaven, Dejan Rusmir (Jeff Cunningham 83), Eric Gehrig, Robbie Rogers - Andres Mendoza (Tommy Heinemann 70), Bernardo Anor (Justin Meram 76).
- With wins in four of their last six games, the Crew are now just a point out of the lead in the Eastern Conference—even after a bye week.
- "It was a battle between two teams. I'm very happy we scored in the last minute, but I thought Vancouver fought hard and probably deserved a point, especially with the penalty," Crew head coach Robert Warzycha said.
- Jeff Cunningham scored his first goal of the season to give the Crew the 1-0 win at Vancouver in their last match, the 133rd goal of his MLS league career, tying him with Jaime Moreno for the all-time lead.
- "This is the longest I've gone without scoring," Cunningham said. "It's been a lack of confidence a little bit. I didn't know when and how that goal was going to come but I'm pretty pleased the way it happened. The team needed those three points and I'm happy to contribute in that manner."
- Making his eighth consecutive start, rookie Josh Gardner contributed his first MLS assist, after scoring his first professional goal June 8 vs. Real Salt Lake.
- "Columbus picked a great group of rookies," first-year forward Justin Meram said. "All of us are contributing, scoring and assists. I think the veterans appreciate it." Said fellow rookie Eric Gehrig: "I'd like to see people say we're rebuilding when we're [second] in the East and doing pretty well."
- Dejan Rusmir made his first start since May 21, missing the last two games after a pair of substitute appearances which followed a three-game absence.
- With Andy Iro (now with Toronto FC) suspended, Julius James returned to central defense following a two-match absence.
- "In the first half we had a couple good looks, our defenders did very well blocking their shots and Joe Cannon saved a couple. I'm happy because we knew it was going to be a battle and because we got the three points," Warzycha said.
- Following the Wednesday match, Warzycha gave his team a mini-vacation, not reconvening until Monday of this week in preparation for the San Jose game.
- "After so many games it's nice to get a break," Warzycha said. "They got to spend some time with their families and go where it's a peaceful place. Hopefully they were thinking about how to get a championship this year."
- On Friday the Crew completed a trade with Toronto FC, sending midfielder Leandre Griffit and defender Andy Iro to Toronto in exchange for midfielder Tony Tchani.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The San Jose Earthquakes had their winless streak extended to five games, playing to a scoreless draw with Philadelphia Union on Saturday evening at Buck Shaw Stadium. The Quakes have 22 points from 17 games on the season, sitting in a tie for sixth place in the Western Conference.
- Union forced Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch into five saves on the evening. Philadelphia Faryd Mondragon made two saves in preserving the clean sheet.
- Union nearly snagged all three points with five minutes left to play, but Kyle Nakazawa's free kick from the edge of the area rattled off the post.
- Earthquakes boss Frank Yallop made four changes to the team that fell 2-0 to Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center. Bobby Burling came into the back for Steven Beitashour, Khari Stephenson and Anthony Ampaipitakwong came into midfield for Joey Gjertsen and Sam Cronin, and Simon Dawkins started up top for the suspended Steven Lenhart.
- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-1-3-2): Jon Busch - Chris Leitch, Jason Hernandez, Bobby Burling, Ramiro Corrales - Brad Ring - Anthony Ampaipitakwong (Ellis McLoughlin 59), Khari Stephenson, Ryan Johnson - Simon Dawkins (Rafael Baca 80), Chris Wondolowski.
- On Thursday, San Jose completed a trade with Toronto FC, sending winger Ryan Johnson (plus allocation money and an international slot) to the Canadian club in exchange for center back Nana Attakora, midfielder Jacob Peterson and forward Alan Gordon.
- The Earthquakes were shut out again for a second consecutive match and have not scored in four of their last five games.
- "I thought at times we played OK. We just couldn't sustain it," Quakes head coach Frank Yallop said. "For whatever reason, teams go through these types of stretches. We try to give confidence to the players, and they try to get confidence in themselves. It comes from trying and playing games and getting results as a group."
- The Quakes were able to record a second defensive shutout in four games, moving into the top half of defenses league-wide.
- "Jason (Hernandez), Bobby (Burling), Ramiro (Corrales) and (Chris) Leitch on the right; everybody is doing their part back there," said goalkeeper Jon Busch. "(It) was incredible. They were blocking shots. In hockey term, it looked like a power play kill. That's how important they were tonight by clearing chances they had outside our box and giving me and the team a chance."
- After four wins in five games to highlight a six-game unbeaten run, the Quakes have played to draws in three of their last four.
- "I think if you look at the last three matches before this one, you could have made the case that we could have won. I think tonight was a little tougher. They had the better chances tonight than we did. To be realistic, we'll take the point especially going down this stretch against a tough opponent. You can't help but look back against LA (Galaxy) and New York (Red Bulls) and think we should have won those," said Busch.
- Signed just days before the match, Rafael Baca made his MLS debut, coming on for the final 10 minutes. "He had a really good preseason with us. We've been trying to sign him for a number of months. We finally got the clearance, and it's good to finally have him," Yallop said.
- Said Baca: "Hopefully I can provide more of an attack and some goals. I work hard at practice to get in sync with these guys. While I was out there, I got a feel for the player on top and saw that they wanted to score. I was trying to go after the ball hard for the last 10 minutes to gain some possession to try and create opportunities."
- On Tuesday, the Quakes defeated West Bromwich Albion of the English Premier League 2-1 at Buck Shaw Stadium. Goalkeeper David Bingham gave the match a stunning start, scoring from his own penalty area on a punt that bounced over the head of West Brom goalkeeper Boaz Myhill. Khari Stephenson then hit from long range in the 33rd minute, before WBA's Jerome Thomas pulled a goal back in the 53rd minute.
- Here's the San Jose team: David Bingham (Andrew Weber 46), Tim Ward, Bobby Burling (Chris Leitch 46), Jason Hernandez (Brad Ring 46), Justin Morrow, Rafael Baca (Ramiro Corrales 61), Sam Cronin (Anthony Ampaipitakwong 46), Khari Stephenson (Simon Dawkins 46), Ellis McLoughlin (Omar Jasseh 46), Joey Gjertsen (Matt Luzunaris 46), Scott Sealy (Chris Wondolowski 60).