Preview: Sporting try to stay atop East with trip to SJ
BUCK SHAW STADIUM, Santa Clara, Calif.
(WEEK 29; MLS Game 283)
October 1, 2011
10:30 p.m. ET (CSN-CA; KSMO; watch LIVE online)
Two teams at opposite ends of the playoff scrap meet at Buck Shaw Stadium when the San Jose Earthquakes play host to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday evening. Sporting now lead the Eastern Conference after their 2-1 win against the Columbus Crew at midweek. The Quakes find themselves eight points out of 10th place overall and the final wild card spot with four games to play after a 1-1 draw in Colorado last weekend.
REFEREE: Alex Prus. SAR (bench): Jeff Hosking; JAR (opposite): Frank Anderson; 4th: Jasen Anno
MLS Career: 189 games; FC/gm: 27.2; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 43; pens: 51
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES-OUT: MF Bobby Convey (neck strain); MF Andre Luiz (L knee injury); DF Ike Opara (L foot injury); FW Alan Gordon (surgery); FW Steven Lenhart (family leave); DOUBTFUL: DF Jason Hernandez (L quadriceps strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Justin Morrow (R hamstring strain); FW Scott Sealy (L groin strain)
SPORTING KANSAS CITY-OUT: DF Daneil Cyrus (L foot fracture); MF Konrad Warzycha (R knee surgery); MF Luke Sassano (R knee sprain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Roger Espinoza (L quad strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD:
SJ: Alan Gordon
KC: Aurelien Collin, Graham Zusi
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS:
SJ: Steven Beitashour, Bobby Burling, Ramiro Corrales, Jason Hernandez, Chris Leitch, Steven Lenhart
KC: Omar Bravo, Julio Cesar, Birahim Diop
ALL-TIME (45 meetings): Earthquakes 20 wins (3 shootout), 55 goals…Sporting 19 wins (4 shootout), 55 goals…Ties 6
AT SAN JOSE (22 meetings): Earthquakes 13 wins (1 shootout), 33 goals…Sporting 4 wins (2 shootout), 18 goals…Ties 5
- In the first meeting this season, C.J. Sapong scored in the 31st minute to lead Sporting to a 1-0 win, June 17 at Livestrong Sporting Park.
- San Jose hasn’t won on their last six trips to Kansas City, since a 2-0 victory in 2004, the last win by a road team in the series.
- Kansas City last won at San Jose in 2000. The Quakes have won eight of the last 12 home meetings vs. KC, with four draws, including all three encounters since San Jose returned to the league.
- Coaches record: Peter Vermes v SJ: P4 W2 L2 D0…Frank Yallop vs. DC: P23 W12 L7 D4
LAST MEETING (MLS)
- 6/17: KC 1, SJ 0 (Sapong 31)
- The game-winning goal and first goal in KC's new home came in the 31st minute following a foul on Davy Arnaud on the right flank. Graham Zusi curled in the service to the front post, where C.J. Sapong fought off a challenge and managed to extend his left foot to apply the finish past San Jose ‘keeper Jon Busch.
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-4-1-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Graham Zusi (Kei Kamara 63), Davy Arnaud, Omar Bravo (Teal Bunbury 86), Birahim Diop - Luke Sassano (Julio Cesar 61) - C.J. Sapong.
- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-4-1-1): Jon Busch - Steven Beitashour, Jason Hernandez, Bobby Burling, Bobby Convey - Anthony Ampaipitakwong (Ellis McLoughlin 46 / Scott Sealy 89), Sam Cronin (Simon Dawkins 46), Brad Ring, Ramiro Corrales - Khari Stephenson - Steven Lenhart.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The San Jose Earthquakes concluded their three-game road trip with another draw, getting a 1-1 result with the Colorado Rapids on Saturday evening at DickÆs Sporting Goods Park. The Quakes have 31 points from 30 games on the season, sitting in eighth place in the Western Conference.
- The Earthquakes opened the lead in the 18th minute. Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens failed to hold a long distance shot from Khari Stephenson and Chris Wondolowski pounced to sweep the rebound home.
- But the Rapids hit for the leveler in the 71st minute. A corner kick wasn't cleared and Jeff Larentowicz's shot stopped on the line, but Drew Moor was there to sweep it into the back of the net.
- Earthquakes boss Frank Yallop made one change to the team that came back for a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field. Jacob Peterson came into the side in place of Sam Cronin.
- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-1-3-2): Jon Busch - Steven Beitashour, Bobby Burling, Nana Attakora (Brad Ring 30), Justin Morrow - Ramiro Corrales - Jacob Peterson (Joey Gjertsen 66), Rafael Baca (Maxwell Griffin 83), Simon Dawkins - Khari Stephenson, Chris Wondolowski.
- While the Quakes have won just once since June 11, they have a victory and three draws in their last five games.
- “We’ve moved the ball well in the last sort of seven, eight, nine games; really well. We played terrific in Portland on Wednesday night, and were very unlucky not to get more than a point out of that one,” Quakes head coach Frank Yallop said.“(We’ve) wanted to attack, we don’t want to sit back, and I thought we pressed them well. Early I thought we caught the ball up in uncomfortable positions and I thought we created some good stuff.”
- Still, San Jose could be eliminated from playoff consideration with a loss to Kansas City and two of a win by Philadelphia, a win by D.C. United and a win by New York, or with a draw and wins by Columbus, Philadelphia and D.C.
- “Numerically, we’re still in it,” Quakes defender Steven Beitashour said. “There’s a bunch of teams sitting on the playoff bubble, at the bottom of the pack. Just having that slight possibility keeps us going. The players, the coaches won’t let us quit. Even if we were out of it, don’t think the personnel would quit.”
- Chris Wondolowski scored his 11th goal of the season, now in a four-way tie for fourth place in the MLS Golden Boot standings, just two behind new leader Dwayne De Rosario of D.C. United.
- “We knew we were trying to play a possession game. That’s something we’ve really been doing a lot better lately. Moving the ball from side to side and getting crosses in,” said Wondolowski. “Khari [Stephenson] has a great shot and he was able to find a little space and it hit off right. It came out pretty hot, it was a pretty big rebound but I’ll take those any day.”
- Paired with Khari Stephenson-nominally a midfielder-either half of the strike partnership has scored in each of San Jose’s last five matches, after the team suffered eight shutouts in its previous 12 games.
- “I’m a versatile player, I can do either [midfield] or [forward],” Stephenson said. “It’s just [a matter of] being comfortable in the position. It’s something that the team needs and I have the qualities that can help the team in that role. ... I’m working on it, and it’s been paying off for us.”
- Wondolowski tied Landon Donovan for second place Earthquakes all-time goalscoring lead with 32 goals. Ronald Cerritos is the club’s all-time leader with 61, from 1998-2002 and 2005.
- “It’s right now a little bittersweet. It’s a true honor and he’s a great player, and I know how much it means to the fans and the club and I appreciate it. But I really wish I could have gotten another or a win. I would take a win over that any day,” said Wondolowski.
- For a second consecutive game, Yallop ran out his young back four. Steven Beitashour (24), Justin Morrow (23) and Nana Attakora (21) have started together alongside ôveteranö Bobby Burling (27). “We’re all young, but I think our whole back line’s pretty talented,” said Beitashour.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City took over sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference, getting a late winner in a 2-1 win against the Columbus Crew on Wednesday evening at Livestrong Sporting Park. Sporting have 44 points from 31 matches on the season, two points ahead of Houston.
- Sporting jumped into the lead in the 14th minute. Crew defender Chad Marshall took down C.J. Sapong in the box, and referee Hilario Grajeda pointed to the spot. Kei Kamara stepped up to send Columbus goalkeeper William Hesmer the wrong way for the conversion.
- But the Crew pulled level in the 34th minute when Robbie Rogers turned into space in the midfield and played a through ball to Emilio Renterφa, who slammed his shot from outside the area low and hard across SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and inside the back post.
- The game-winner came with 16 minutes to play. Matt Besler sent in a long throw-in from the right flank into a dangerous area. Columbus center back Julius James was first to it, but instead sent a looping header over Hesmer into his own goal.
- Sporting manager Peter Vermes made three changes to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with Philadelphia Union at Livestrong Sporting Park. Aurelien Collin came into the back four, Davy Arnaud moved into central midfield and C.J. Sapong started up top, in place of Roger Espinoza, Jeferson and Teal Bunbury.
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-1-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Davy Arnaud (Lawrence Olum 77), Julio Cesar - Graham Zusi - Kei Kamara, C.J. Sapong, Omar Bravo (Michael Harrington 86).
- For the first time this season, Sporting Kansas City moved into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference after the win against Columbus. It’s the first time the club’s been all alone atop the East since April 2009.
- “We have a young team. And this victory will pay major dividends down the road,” said SKC manager Peter Vermes. “This isn’t a type of game that many of the guys on the field tonight have ever been in before and they did well to steal the moment. We haven’t achieved anything yet, we have San Jose in front of us we have to get prepared for.”
- Sporting now face two of their final three games this season on the road trips to San Jose and D.C. United wrapped around a home game vs. New York.
- “Being in first feels good but at the end of the day we have got to turn around because we have another game on Saturday,” said Davy Arnaud. “It was really important that if we want to get where we want to be that [Wednesday] was three points and that’s the start of this last little push and now we've got to get back to work tomorrow.”
- Kei Kamara pulled into a tie with Omar Bravo for the team lead in goals with nine with the KC opener. He has a goal or an assist in five of the last six games.
- For the fifth time this season, Sporting scored a goal as a direct result of a long throw-in from Matt Besler, when Julius James headed into his own goal.
- “It’s too dangerous with the guys that we have on or team [to stop],” Vermes said. “It’s C.J. and Kei and Collin comes forward, even Julio (Cesar) at times. That’s a lot of guys that can get in the box. It’s a weapon. It’s almost like a corner kick for us. We’re going to take those as many times as we can.”
- In the five games where KC has scored from a Besler throw, they’ve won four (Portland (twice), Real Salt Lake and Seattle)
- “I’m just glad I’m on the same team as Kei, C.J. and Besler,” goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen said. “It’s not unstoppable. But if the ball is thrown in the right place with the right timing, you can’t handle it.” Said Graham Zusi: “It’s a deadly weapon. I’m glad we keep on cashing in from it.”
- Arnaud returned to the starting lineup for the first time since June 22, missing 17 league games while recovering from sports hernia surgery.
- “It is good to be back, good to be out there from the start and battling with the guys,” Arnaud said. “It’s tough, it wasn't an easy game û I thought it was pretty good.”
- Arnaud tied current assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin for the most regular season appearances in Kansas City club history, with 237 for his career.
- “It felt great. It was a huge honor to get to play at one place for so long and here at the stadium in front of all of the fans,” Arnaud said. “Kerry [Zavagnin] is someone I looked up to my whole career; it's a huge honor.”