SAN JOSE, Calif.
1 pm PT (ESPN2)
The San Jose Earthquakes return home after a long week in unfamiliar territory - at the foot of the Western Conference table for the first time in nearly four seasons, and having now failed to win in their last five league contests. They play host to a Colorado Rapids that endured a disappointing few days of their own, taking a three-game winning streak into a home-and-home series with the Los Angeles Galaxy that they thought could define the West - and coming away with just one point while failing to score a single goal.
REFEREE: Gus St. Silva. SAR (bench): Nate Clement; JAR (opposite): David Bragg; 4th: Yader Reyes
MLS Career: 27 games; FC/gm: 34.9; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 6; pens: 6
Games involving Earthquakes: P4 W1 L2 T1; FC/gm: 36.3; Y/gm: 4.8; R: 2; pens: 1
Games involving Rapids: P5 W1 L3 T1; FC/gm: 30.2; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 1; pens: 2
INJURY REPORT: SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: DF Chris Roner (R ankle surgery); DF Eddie Robinson (L hamstring rupture); MD Ian Russell (R hamstring strain); DOUBTFUL: DF Troy Dayak (upper back sprain); QUESTIONABLE: MD Ronnie Ekelund (L ankle sprain); DF Jeff Agoos (R calf strain); DF Ryan Cochrane (R hip strain); PROBABLE: FW Jamil Walker (R ankle sprain) ... COLORADO RAPIDS - OUT: DF Jeff Stewart (R knee); FW Zizi Roberts (R knee swelling); DOUBTFUL: FW Rey Angel Martinez (broken toe); PROBABLE: DF Ritchie Kotschau (L knee); FW Jean-Philippe Peguero (abdominal strain);: MD Mark Chung (L quadriceps strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
YELLOW PERIL: SJ: Brian Mullan (16 CP) ... COL: Darryl Powell (18 CP)
This is the second of four meetings between the two clubs this season, the first of two in San Jose, in a series that was absolutely even after eight seasons. The next meetings will also be in San Jose on Aug. 28 before they play for the final time in the league campaign on Oct. 2 in Denver.
In the first meeting, the Rapids claimed a 1-0 victory in Denver on April 24. Chris Henderson scored a 26th-minute goal, ripping a low drive from inside the penalty area beat San Jose 'keeper Pat Onstad just inside his right-hand post.
Here's Tim Hankinson's team (4-4-2): Joe Cannon - Matt Crawford, Nat Borchers, Pablo Mastroeni, Ritchie Kotschau - Chris Henderson, Kyle Beckerman, Antonio de la Torre, Mark Chung - Jean-Philippe Peguero (Gary Sullivan 89), John Spencer (David Castellanos 73).
Here's the team Dominic Kinnear put out (4-4-2): Pat Onstad - Wes Hart (Jamil Walker 83), Troy Dayak, Eddie Robinson (Ramiro Corrales 22), Jeff Agoos - Brian Mullan (Brian Ching 70), Ronnie Ekelund, Richard Mulrooney, Ian Russell - Landon Donovan, Dwayne De Rosario
A year ago, the Rapids won both meetings in San Jose, the Quakes winning once in Denver with the other match a scoreless draw.
The Earthquakes won the season-opening match between the two clubs at Invesco Field on April 12 (Roberts 46 - Ching 1, Dunivant 22), but the Rapids won the next two, both at Spartan Stadium. They won 2-0 on July 12 (Kotschau 34, Chung 49), then 2-1 on Aug. 30 (Mullan 59 - Chung 21, Spencer 67), before the scoreless draw in San Jose on Oct. 10.
The victories in San Jose for the Rapids last year snapped a four-match winless streak (three consecutive losses) for Colorado away in the series. The Rapids loss at home to San Jose in the season opener last year snapped a three-match home winning streak for Colorado in the series.
Mark Chung leads current Rapids players with 5 goals, 5 assists in his career v San Jose, but only 4 goals, 1 assist have come while with Colorado. Chris Henderson has 3 goals, 7 assists v San Jose, with 1 goal, 6 assists while with the Rapids. John Spencer and Ritchie Kotschau have 3 goals each v San Jose, Spencer also with four assists.
Landon Donovan has 3 goals, 5 assists v Colorado, leading all active Quakes and second on the club's all-time list (behind Ronald Cerritos). No other current Earthquakes player has more than 1 goal v Colorado, though Brian Mullan has four assists, and Jeff Agoos and Richard Mulrooney have three each (all of Agoos's assists with D.C. United). Ian Russell has 0 goals, 5 assists.
Coaches record: Tim Hankinson v SJ: P19 W11 L6 T2 ... Dominic Kinnear vs. COL: P1 W0 L1 T0
ALL-TIME (33 meetings): Earthquakes 15 wins (1 shootout), 52 goals ...Rapids 16 wins (2 shootout), 53 goals ... 2 draws
IN SAN JOSE (16 meetings): Earthquakes 8 wins (1 shootout), 33 goals ... Rapids 7 wins (1 shootout), 27 goals ... 1 draw
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The MetroStars took advantage of United's loss to claim top billing in the East with the victory at Giants Stadium.
John Wolyniec gave the home side a deserved lead just after the hour when he turned a wonderful through ball from Craig Ziadie inside the back post (63). Then Amado Guevara sealed the victory three minutes into added time when he converted from the penalty spot after Mike Magee was bundled over in the box.
It concluded a long week for the defending MLS champion, who fell to last place in the Western Conference at midweek with a 2-1 loss at home to the Dallas Burn.
Earthquakes coach Dominic Kinnear made three changes from the team that lost to the Burn, reverting to the 4-4-2 he prefers. Todd Dunivant made his first start in the 2004 season, coming in at left back, while nominal defenders Wes Hart and Ramiro Corrales moved forward into wide midfield roles. Ian Russell was out with a hamstring injury, while Landon Donovan and Brian Ching were away on U.S. national team duty.
Here's Kinnear's team (4-4-2): Pat Onstad - Craig Waibel, Ryan Cochrane (Arturo Alvarez 32), Jeff Agoos, Todd Dunivant - Wes Hart, Ronnie Ekelund, Richard Mulrooney, Ramiro Corrales (Tighe Dombrowski 74) - Dwayne De Rosario, Jamil Walker (Chris Brown 58)
After the match, Kinnear closed the locker room and held a team meeting. "It was a little chat,'' Kinnear said. "You sit there and say, 'Look where we are in the standings. It's staring you right in the face. I'm not happy. You shouldn't be happy.' I don't think they are happy."
Kinnear was then forced to reshuffle again after just a half-hour, when center back Ryan Cochrane reaggravated a hip injury. Kinnear brought Arturo Alvarez on in a wide midfield role, Craig Waibel moving into the center of the back four as Wes Hart moved back to a fullback role.
At the halfway point of the season, the Quakes have won just four matches and are in last place in the West for the first time since the 2000 season.
"It is a pretty frustrating feeling right now,'' Mulrooney said. "I think on every shot, everyone is looking at it and hoping that is the one that goes in and doesn't hit the post. Almost every year we have gone through a tough stretch like this. This year we are getting it before the All-Star break, and what that means is we still have 15 games to turn things around.''
On Wednesday, the Earthquakes defeated a 10-man Portland Timbers (A-League) 3-0 in the round-of-16 of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at PGE Park in Portland. Ronnie Ekelund converted a penalty in the 18th minute after Portland's Gavin Wilkinson was sent off when he pulled down Brian Ching in the area.
Ramiro Corrales then doubled the Quakes lead in the 55th minute when he hit home on an angled drive, before Dwayne De Rosario powered home a header of a Brian Mullan cross 10 minutes from time for the final result.
Here's Kinnear's team: Jon Conway; Wes Hart, Ryan Cochrane (Tighe Dombrowski 70), Craig Waibel, Todd Dunivant; Brian Mullan, Richard Mulrooney, Ronnie Ekelund, Ramiro Corrales (Jamil Walker 71); Landon Donovan (Dwayne De Rosario 46), Brian Ching (Chris Brown 80)
"At the beginning of the year we had three goals,'' Kinnear said, "to win the CONCACAF Champions Cup, the Open Cup and the MLS Cup. We got knocked out of the CONCACAF Cup, so we have our sights set on this tournament and want to do well in it."
The San Jose Earthquakes lost for the third consecutive match - and saw their winless run stretch to five games - with a 2-0 loss away to the MetroStars last Saturday afternoon. The Earthquakes are now on 17 points from 15 matches, three behind the fourth-place Dallas Burn and now a full 13 points behind the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Galaxy.
Each goalkeeper stood tall for a half in keeping honors even as the Galaxy and Rapids met for the second time in five days, after Los Angeles claimed a 2-0 victory in the first game of the home-and-home series.
Rapids 'keeper Joe Cannon twice stopped ace marksman Carlos Ruiz in the first half - with Ruiz also putting a shot over the bar when well placed early - as the Galaxy owned the opening 45 minutes.
But it was Los Angeles 'keeper Kevin Hartman's turn after the break, twice stopping Chris Henderson then making a remarkable stop on a diving header from Mark Chung 16 minutes from time. Hartman was then bailed out by the woodwork in added time after fluffing a punch on a flighted free kick.
"We have to be more dangerous in the final third (of the field)," Rapids coach Tim Hankinson said. "Too many times we were trying to get the perfect shot. I think that's the tendency when we're not scoring regularly, you try to basically tee it up."
Hankinson made two changes to the team that lost 2-0 to the Galaxy five days earlier in Carson, but also reshuffled his team. Ritchie Kotschau was out with a knee injury, but Pablo Mastroeni returned from international duty to move back into central defense. Jordan Cila came into an attacking midfield role as Joey DiGiamarino was dropped, but Darryl Powell was moved to left back while Matt Crawford moved forward to a wide midfield role.
Here's Hankinson's team (4-4-2): Joe Cannon - Antonio de la Torre, Nat Borchers, Pablo Mastroeni, Darryl Powell (Seth Trembly 33) - Chris Henderson, Kyle Beckerman, Jordan Cila (Rey Angel Martinez 70), Matt Crawford - Alberto Delgado (Mark Chung 46), John Spencer
But it was forced to change after just a half-hour when Powell suffered a hamstring pull, Seth Trembly coming into midfield while Crawford again moved back.
Mark Chung returned to action for the first time in eight games (since May 29) as he came back from a serious thigh strain, coming on as a halftime substitute for Alberto Delgado.
It was only the second time in league history that a team posted two shutouts against the same opponent within five days. Coincidentally, the Galaxy were on the receiving end the first time, when David Kramer and the San Jose Earthquakes recorded back-to-back shutouts Sept. 16-20, 1998.
The Colorado Rapids came out of their home-and-home series with Western Conference leaders Los Angeles Galaxy with just a single point - and without a single goal - after the two clubs played to a scoreless draw on Wednesday in Denver. The Rapids remain in third place in the Western Conference with 22 points from 16 matches, still nine behind the Galaxy, but now two points ahead of fourth-place Dallas Burn.