This week in Quakes history: July 4, 2001
It was the ultimate battle between the top two MLS teams when the Miami Fusion took on the San Jose Earthquakes on July 4, 2001. Not only would the result of the game earn bragging rights, but both the first-place Fusion (11-1-2, 35 pts.) and the second-place Earthquakes (8-2-4, 28 pts.) were in the midst of 11-game unbeaten streaks that neither team was ready to break.
The stakes were high going into the Wednesday afternoon game at Spartan Stadium. But the Quakes did have the apparent upper hand in the matchup. In three meetings at Spartan Stadium against the Fusion, the Quakes had outscored Miami 11-3 and had defeated them every time.Also, the Earthquakes had recently completed two consecutive months unbeaten, a great feat since, prior to 2001, the San Jose club had never finished even one month without a loss.
But then again, the Miami Fusion was also on an 11-game hot streak, not losing since April 21, 2001. Also, the Fusion just happened to be the last team that the Quakes lost to before starting the unbeaten streak, falling 2-1 to the Miami club on April 21.
A crowd of 9,847 ventured to the stadium to celebrate the Fourth of July by watching what was called the "Midseason MLS Cup" between the top two teams in the league. The Quakes made a change by giving midfielder Ramiro Corrales his first start of the year to fill the injured Richard Mulrooney's spot while he recovered from a fractured toe. Dario Brose was also out with a hip flexor strain, and so was defender Eddie Robinson with a rib fracture, but the Quakes were fired up and ready to face the Fusion even without some of their regular starters.
It would be the Fusion who would get on the board first in the battle. Preki put Miami ahead in the 21st minute on a great give-and-go sequence. Preki started the play by carrying the ball out of the Fusion's area and dribbling downfield before sending a pass to Tyrone Marshall out wide. Marshall one-timed the ball straight back into the Quakes penalty box where it met with a streaking Preki. With only Quakes goalkeeper Joe Cannon, ranked first in the league at the time with a 0.90 goals against average, left to beat, Preki carefully slotted the ball into the net to give Miami an early 1-0 lead.
Corrales, who was making his first start of the season, put San Jose back in the game with his first goal of the year early in the second half. The Quakes had several opportunities to score in the 57th minute, starting with an attempted bicycle kick that De Rosario was unable to connect with. Wade Barrett, who was making his 75th appearance in a San Jose uniform, then shot the loose ball, but it was deflected back out and landed at the feet of Corrales just outside the 18-yard box. The young midfielder ripped a shot that found its way through the crowded penalty box and into the back of the net to equalize the score.
"I just wanted to get in there and try and fill Richard [Mulrooney's] shoes," said Corrales after the July 4, 2001 game. "I felt that I did a good job, and it felt great to get a goal in my first start of the year. I want to keep helping the team any way that I can."
The Preki and Corrales goals ended up being the only two of the match, leaving both teams satisfied with the 1-1 result.
"You have to give full credit to our guys, because they went out and tried to get the win," said Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop following the tie. "It was an unbelievable effort by our players today. I felt that we created a number of chances, and we just could not put them away. I am definitely happy with the effort."
Though the first- and second-place teams could not determine a winner, the tie was good enough to carry both teams' unbeaten streaks to 12 games. The game against the Miami Fusion would be San Jose's final unbeaten game during the streak, giving the Quakes seven wins and five ties in the run.
The Quakes' amazing 12-game unbeaten run from April 28 to July 4, 2001 still stands today as the club's best streak in its 10-year history. Since then, the Earthquakes have never surpassed more than six straight unbeaten games. The streak also helped the Quakes to finish out the year with a 13-7-6 record in 2001, propelling them into the playoffs and eventually to the MLS Cup.
History may be about to repeat itself. Currently, San Jose is once again in the midst of an unbeaten streak as they have a 3-0-3 record in their last six games, not losing since May 28, 2005.
"At full strength, I think this team is right there with the 2001 team," said Eddie Robinson, who was a part of the 12-game streak as an Earthquake in 2001.
Midfielder Mark Chung couldn't agree more with his teammate.
"I don't like to make predictions," Chung said recently, "but this team is playing well and I know we could play better. It ranks up there with one of the best teams I've played on."
With the 2005 Earthquakes looking to continue to extend the streak, 12 isn't too far off.