METROSTARS vs SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
E. RUTHERFORD, N.J.
4 pm ET (ESPN2)
A pair of teams suddenly searching for answers come together in Giants Stadium in a matchup that has certainly had its share of fireworks over the past few seasons. The host MetroStars have now lost three consecutive matches, defeat to then-last place teams followed a stunning 6-2 drubbing by D.C. United. Earlier this year, Metro and San Jose shared 10 goals between them - but the Earthquakes come into the game with two consecutive losses and winless in four games, now at the foot of the Western Conference.
REFEREE: Kevin Terry. SAR (bench): Tom Supple; JAR (opposite): Ken Kaplan; 4th: Ken Heller
MLS Career: 93 games; FC/gm: 30.5; Y/gm: 2.8; R: 32; pens: 39
Games involving MetroStars: P20 W13 L5 T2; FC/gm: 31.5; Y/gm: 2.8; R: 8; pens: 10
Games involving Earthquakes: P17 W8 L6 T3; FC/gm: 29.9; Y/gm: 2.8; R: 7; pens: 8
INJURY REPORT: METROSTARS - OUT: MD Michael Bradley (R foot stress fracture); MD Gilberto Flores (L ankle ruptured tendon); MD Mark Lisi (R ankle sprain); FW Cornell Glen (L quadriceps strain); DF Tim Regan (L knee MCL sprain) ... SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: DF Chris Roner (R ankle surgery); DF Eddie Robinson (L hamstring rupture); DOUBTFUL: DF Troy Dayak (upper back sprain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Jamil Walker (R ankle sprain); DF Jeff Agoos (R calf strain); PROBABLE: MD Ramiro Corrales (R knee sprain); DF Craig Waibel (R quadriceps contusion)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: MET: Eddie Pope, Eddie Gaven (USA; July 11 v Poland) ... SJ: Brian Ching, Brian Mullan, Landon Donovan (USA; July 11 v Poland)
YELLOW PERIL: MET: Jeff Parke (19 CP); Ricardo Clark (18 CP) ... SJ: Brian Mullan (16 CP)
This is the third and final meeting between the two teams this season, the only one at Giants Stadium. A total of 14 goals were scored in the two games at Spartan Stadium, the Quakes winning one with one draw.
In their last meeting, the Earthquakes came away with a 3-1 win on June 12 which none of the fireworks of the previous visit, both teams hit by international call-ups.
A wonderfully-struck Jeff Agoos free kick, bent around the wall, gave the home side a 27th-minute lead. But rookie Jeff Parke scored his first professional goal after the break (59) to finish off a wild sequence that pulled Metro level.
But then the Quakes scored twice late, 10 minutes apart, for the win. Brian Ching ran onto a perfectly-weighted chip from Richard Mulrooney and rounded 'keeper Zach Wells and then a late-arriving defender before scooping the ball home (79), then Brian Mullan won a ball on the left and cut across the box through four Metro defenders before slotting inside Wells' right post to round out the scoring.
Here's Dominic Kinnear's team on the night (4-4-2): Jon Conway - Wes Hart, Ryan Cochrane, Jeff Agoos, Craig Waibel - Ian Russell, Ramiro Corrales, Richard Mulrooney, Arturo Alvarez - Brian Ching, Brian Mullan.
Here's the team Bob Bradley put out (4-4-2): Zach Wells - Ricardo Clark, Kenny Arena, Jeff Parke, Chris Leitch - Joselito Vaca, Gilberto Flores (Tim Regan 67), Mark Lisi (Pablo Brenes 85), Eddie Gaven - Mike Magee, John Wolyniec.
The teams played to a second remarkable draw in as many years in their first meeting this year, a 5-5 draw at Spartan Stadium on May 8. The 10 total goals were one shy of the league record.
A long-range strike from Cornell Glen gave the MetroStars the lead after just six minutes, but Brian Ching finished off a cheeky backheel from Landon Donovan (13). Chris Brown then scored his first San Jose goal (24), but barely a minute later Joselito Vaca hit a bomb from all of 25 yards to again pull Metro level. Donovan then finished off some neat juggling in tight quarters with a full volley (42), but another spectacular long-range blast from Fabian Taylor sent two minutes later sent the teams into the break on level terms.
Ronnie Ekelund converted from the penalty spot (57) to again give the Earthquakes the lead two minutes before Craig Waibel's first career MLS goal made it a two-goal margin, heading home a Jeff Agoos freekick. But Amado Guevara sent home a penalty just four minutes later to pull Metro to within one, then in stoppage time, Glen turned home an Eddie Gaven cross with a nifty side-foot stepover for the final equalizer.
A year ago, the teams played to a remarkable 4-4 draw at the Meadowlands before the MetroStars won 2-0 in San Jose.
On July 2, both teams scored in second-half stoppage time as they shared the spoils in New Jersey (Guevara 7, Magee 36; Mathis 43, 90 - Ching 15, 34; Lagos 78; Donovan 90). Then on Oct. 5, Metro clinched a playoff berth with a 2-0 victory in Silicon Valley (Guevara 30, Jolley 90).
The MetroStars victory last year was the first by a visiting team in the series since the 1999 season, when the 'Quakes won 2-1 at Giants Stadium.
The teams have played to a draw in each of the last four seasons, and technically they did as well in 1999, the 'Quakes winning in a shootout after a 1-1 draw through 90 minutes.
Only two current MetroStars players have more than one goal for their career against San Jose: Amado Guevara (3 goals, 2 assists), and now Cornell Glen (2 goals, 1 assist). The club's all-time leaders against San Jose include Clint Mathis and Giovanni Savarese (3 goals, 1 assist each), behind Guevara.
Four current Earthquakes players have multiple goals against the MetroStars - Landon Donovan, Brian Ching, Chris Brown and Jeff Agoos. Richard Mulrooney has 0 goals, 5 assists against Metro. The 'Quakes all-time leader against the MetroStars is current D.C. United forward Ronald Cerritos (4 goals, 5 assists); next is current San Jose broadcaster John Doyle (3 goals) - but Ching's 4 goals v Metro have pulled him level.
Coaches record: Dominic Kinnear v MET: P2 W1 D0 L1 ... Bob Bradley vs. SJ: P18 W7 D5 L6
ALL-TIME (21 meetings): MetroStars 5 wins (0 shootout), 29 goals ... Earthquakes 11 wins (2 shootout), 37 goals ... 5 draws
AT GIANTS STADIUM (10 meetings): MetroStars 3 wins (0 shootout), 17 goals ... Earthquakes 3 wins (0 shootout), 13 goals ... 4 draws
The MetroStars' misery continued as United scored six goals in a league match for the first time since the inaugural season, when they put six past Dallas (July 7, 1996).
"There was a point a few weeks ago where we won a few games, and guys started to take it for granted," Metro coach Bob Bradley said. "And that's how quickly things can turn in this league."
Eddie Gaven actually gave Metro the lead (18) when he beat the United offside trap and chipped D.C. 'keeper Troy Perkins with aplomb. But then Ryan Nelsen headed home a freekick (30) to pull United level, then Jaime Moreno got a most unexpected go-ahead goal, stripping Metro 'keeper Jonny Walker in the area before tapping into an empty net.
Alecko Eskandarian then continued his run of form with his first of two goals on the day, hammering home a Dema Kovalenko cross from close range to finish off a wonderful movement to give United a two-goal halftime lead. After the break, Earnie Stewart then unlocked the Metro offside trap before driving a shot home between Walker's legs (57).
Fabian Taylor slipped a shot home from inside the six after Eddie Gaven had done all the hard work battling through the United defense (63), but Eskandarian's second restored the three-goal margin (69), again driving into the goalmouth to convert for his fifth goal in three games. Then in stoppage time, Ben Olsen hammered a free kick through the MetroStars wall to close out the scoring.
"I think anytime you lose two in a row you're in trouble," said defender Eddie Pope. "Three in a row, you've got to start looking at yourselves. I guess you could say, 'Oh, we're going to be all right and everything,' but still any team in this league that loses two in a row ... (says) 'We're in trouble. We've got to turn this thing around.' "
Bradley made two changes to the team that lost 3-2 to the Colorado Rapids at home three days earlier. Tim Regan came in at right back for Craig Ziadie, while Mike Magee returned to attack to partner Sergio Galvan Rey in Bradley's rotation of strikers, coming in for Fabian Taylor.
Here's Bradley's team (4-3-1-2): Jonny Walker - Tim Regan (Pablo Brenes 46), Jeff Parke, Eddie Pope, Chris Leitch - Joselito Vaca (John Wolyniec 68), Ricardo Clark, Amado Guevara - Eddie Gaven - Sergio Galvan Rey (Fabian Taylor 60), Mike Magee
Walker was beating himself up over the second goal, which undoubtedly changed the game. "It was the game," Walker said. "I made a mistake that cost us the game, and that's the bottom line. ... With my experience, I know that I cost the team the match today. It was catch-up ever since I did that."
The MetroStars have now failed to win in six consecutive matches against the Eastern Conference, recording three draws and three losses after winning the two opening matches of the season against Columbus and United.
Bradley will be without two key performers for the Earthquakes match, as Pope and Gaven have been called into the U.S. national team for their friendly against Poland on Sunday in Chicago.
Midfielder Pablo Brenes has been included in Costa Rica's Olympic team, and will leave the MetroStars after the San Jose match. Costa Rica begins play in the Athens Games on Aug. 15 against Iraq; in Group D, they will also face Morocco and Portugal.
The MetroStars continued their downward spiral, reaching a new low in a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of arch-rivals D.C. United at RFK Stadium on Saturday afternoon. It was a third consecutive loss for the MetroStars after two consecutive wins against Los Angeles Galaxy, the club falling out of first place in the Eastern Conference with 19 points from 15 matches, one point behind United.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The defending MLS Cup Champions fell for the first time at Spartan Stadium in the 2004 season - the last team to lose at home this season - but only after a remarkable sequence in the game's final minutes.
Eric Quill gave the Burn a sixth-minute lead when he coolly rounded a defender and beat Pat Onstad from inside the area after his side took advantage of a giveaway. But just four minutes later Ramiro Corrales headed home cleanly on a corner kick to pull the home side level.
That was it until the 89th minute, when Simo Valakari scored his first MLS goal, leaving Onstad rooted to his line with a curling effort from outside the area.
But deep in added time, Milton Reyes was adjudged to have fouled Dwayne DeRosario while jockeying for a corner - and referee Hector Tobon awarded the penalty. Yet Jeff Cassar dove to his left to parry Landon Donovan's spot kick and preserve his side's victory.
"I felt the lineup we had tonight was good. At 1-1, we had a good opportunity to go 2-1 up, but we missed that chance. It was just one of those nights, missing open goals and not taking advantage of our chances," Earthquakes coach Dominic Kinnear said. "The momentum is going against us, but we need to stay positive, even though it is a downtime for this team."
Kinnear made just one change to the team that lost 2-1 to the Los Angeles Galaxy three nights earlier at The Home Depot Center, but effected a significant tactical change. Ronnie Ekelund came back into the team, replacing Arturo Alvarez, but Kinnear went with a back three and a five-man midfield.
Here's Kinnear's team (3-4-1-2): Pat Onstad - Wes Hart, Ryan Cochrane (Todd Dunivant 65), Craig Waibel - Ian Russell (Chris Brown 21) (Arturo Alvarez 72), Ronnie Ekelund, Richard Mulrooney, Ramiro Corrales - Landon Donovan - Brian Ching, Dwayne De Rosario
"They came with one forward and we had three guys so it was a numerical advantage for us. I thought we did all right in the back. We have a game coming up Saturday and we will have to be better. It is going to be a test for us, show us what we are made of," Kinnear said.
The Earthquakes have won just twice in seven home matches this season, drawing four others before the first loss of the season on Wednesday. But over the last season-and-a-half, the Earthquakes have won just nine of 22 games at their home ground, drawing eight and losing five.
"I think every team in the league goes through injuries and national team call-ups; we believe we have a good core of players here and its time for us to step up and start playing better. We tried some stuff tonight and we didn't really respond well," said Onstad. "At times we seemed a little unsure in the back, but that didn't have much bearing on the final result. We missed some good opportunities, and then they scored a soft second goal and that was really it."
The San Jose Earthquakes saw their unbeaten run stretch to four matches - and fell to last place in the Western Conference - with the cruelest of losses in a 2-1 defeat by the Dallas Burn on Wednesday at Spartan Stadium. The Earthquakes still have 17 points, now from 14 matches, two behind the Burn and a full 10 points adrift of the conference-leading Los Angeles Galaxy.