Shrader: Northern California wins again

Greetings! The "View" comes your way this week from afar, New York City to be exact, where the Shrader family spent the past week celebrating the college graduation of our oldest offspring (now among the young American sportscasters looking for work!)

We get the view of the game from the East Coast, but it still looks very much like ... Northern California gets the best of Southern California (again).

Brian Ching quietly and rather quickly inserts himself into the top three in scoring in MLS. Fit and healthy, Ching will - not can - will become a Major League Soccer All-Star. Richard Mulrooney becomes the all-time leading assist man in the team's history, now with 39. And there were goals from Brian Mullan and Dwayne DeRosario, whose goal was simply beautiful to see, even from this far away!

This was more than a 4-2 win over the Galaxy; it was a six-point victory. If the Quakes lose to L.A., they're nine points out of first almost one-third of the way into the season. By beating the Galaxy, they're only three points out with one game in hand. There's really no such thing as a must-win in the third week of May, but doggone it, this one was about as must-win as it gets.

Like it or not (and I suspect you don't like it much), the Galaxy are loaded. They may have more attacking talent than anybody in the league. But they played this one without both Carlos Ruiz and Jovan Kirovski, as they did in a 4-2 win at D.C. United earlier in the week. Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid basically said they would have been more competitive if they hadn't been so tired, with two road games during the week and down a handful of players.

Puh-leeeze! You ever hear Dominic Kinnear, or Frank Yallop before him, complain about who wasn't there? Not a chance. You put together an 18-man roster, then put 11 of them on the field and do your best. That's the way it works. That's one of the many reasons why the Quakes have won twice as many MLS Cups in the last three years as have the Galaxy.

No excuses.

That's why the Quakes are 1-0 this year against the Galaxy and have won two straight at home against L.A., by a combined score of 9-4. And speaking goals, the Quakes have scored a bunch of them this year: 16 in eight games, even in goals per game with the Galaxy, who have scored 18 times in nine games. It may be that kind of year - when the team has to outscore its opponents. Pat Onstad has a league-leading 39 saves, in a season during which the club has already allowed 13 goals in eight games. From my point of view, however, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a slugfest.

This is also a good time to be playing the Columbus Crew, 3-1 winners over the Chicago Fire this past weekend. The Crew had a scoring explosion. They had scored three times in six games and then scored three times in their seventh match. With two wins now, Columbus is out of the Eastern cellar.

It's a good time to play the Crew because if you're a team like the Quakes, 2-0-2 in their last four, you want your opponent to get your attention. Playing in Columbus, which has never been kind to San Jose (1-10 all-time), will help keep the Quakes focused on the task, namely, running their unbeaten streak to five straight and winning for a third time in five games on the road this year.

The Quakes, at 3-2-3 and 12 points, have the second-best mark in the league, and they feel like they still haven't put together a complete 90-minute effort. They've put together some awfully impressive 45-minute stretches, and some brilliant runs of 20 to 30 minutes, but not that "Wow, this is the best team in the league!" kind of performance yet this season.

And when they do, you'll know it and so will everybody else in Major League Soccer. It will, of course, be a beautiful thing to watch, from wherever you view it.

FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL:

• With Pat Onstad in Wales with the Canadian national team, Jon Conway gets his first MLS start of the year. In his last league game, Conway shut out Colorado in a 0-0 game last October. Conway played 90 minutes in the team's 4-1 friendly win over Sporting Lisbon earlier this month.

•The Quakes set a club record with 29 shots in the 4-2 win over the Galaxy. Dwayne De Rosario had eight of them. He also had the second two-assist game of his MLS career.

•The Quakes have not won a regular season game in Columbus since July of 1996, though they did win a playoff game there in 2001 on their way to their first league title. (OK, so they're not all fun but they are facts.)

John Shrader has been the voice of the Earthquakes since 1996 and has worked in television and radio in the Bay Area for the past 20 years.


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