Mother Nature relented for the final game of the MLS Central Coast Showcase as the San Jose Earthquakes and D.C. United battled to a scoreless draw in front of 4,342 fans at Cal Poly's Alex G. Spanos Stadium Sunday afternoon.
Even though the rain held back, the squads had footing issues on muddy pitch after it was ravaged by a torrential downpour on Saturday. At one point in the first half, D.C. United's Marcelo Gallardo went to take a corner kick, but had to boot the ball as it sat in an ankle-deep puddle. The ensuing kick traveled no more than a few yards as it sputtered about in the water.
In the early going, both teams played with a fervor that would indicate this game was anything but an exhibition. The squads combined for 11 fouls and four cautions in the first 15 minutes of play as D.C. United's Marc Burch, Dan Stratford and Devon McTavish and San Jose's Joe Vide received yellows.
The game's first scoring chance came in the 23rd minute as Kei Kamara, who found the net twice against Columbus on Friday, elevated for a deep ball sent into the United box and collided with D.C. keeper Zach Wells. Kamara put a head on the ball, but was whistled for the foul.
In the 44th minute, San Jose's Ned Grabavoy flicked a header into open space behind the D.C. defense and Kamara met the ball in stride, but Gonzalo Martinez quickly made up the distance prevented Kamara from turning the corner.
Gallardo, who was kept quiet for most of the first half, cracked a shot from 25-yards out just before the first-half whistle, but San Jose keeper Dan Benton was right there to make the save.
In the second half, Luciano Emilio found open space running onto a long pass from the midfield in the 50th minute, but San Jose fullback Matt Taylor snuffed out the attack. Just as Emilio was cocking to shoot from 10-yards out, Taylor came in for a hard slide tackle and wrested the ball away.
Kamara found himself with another golden opportunity in the 59th minute as he flicked a shot on the doorstep of the frame, but the shot deflected off a United defender and took a soft bounce into Wells' outstretched legs. D.C. cleared the ball and the game remained scoreless.
The game continued to pick up pace in the second half as a United cross went untouched across the box. Fred, holding on the far left side of the penalty area, stepped into a shot that curled just over the upper right of the goal.
In the waning moments of injury time, Taylor appeared to have netted the decisive goal, but Jose Carvallo, who came on for Wells midway through the second half, managed to dive to his left as the ball rolled toward the post and get a hand to it. Jason Hernandez was running onto the play and nearly flicked a shot into the net as Carvallo put his hand to the ball, but just missed.
D.C. United 0:0 San Jose Earthquakes
MLS Preseason Exhibition - 24 February 2008 - 1 p.m. PT
Alex G. Spanos Stadium - San Luis Obispo, Calif.
First Half Lineups:
D.C. United (5-3-2): Zach Wells, Gonzalo Peralta, Marc Burch, Fred, Marcelo Gallardo, Luciano Emilio, Devon McTavish, Gonzalo Martinez, Bryan Namoff, Dan Stratford, Jaime Moreno.
San Jose Earthquakes (4-4-2): Dan Benton, Jason Hernandez, Ryan Cochrane, Nick Garcia, James Riley, Shea Salinas, Joe Vide, Ramiro Corrales, Ivan Guerrero, Ned Grabavoy, Kei Kamara.
Second Half Lineups: D.C. United (5-3-2): Zach Wells (Jose Carvallo 61), Gonzalo Peralta (Pat Carroll 74), Marc Burch (Ryan Cordeiro 74), Fred (Josh Gardner 67), Marcelo Gallardo (Justin Moose 61), Luciano Emilio (Jerson Monteiro 73), Devon McTavish (Quavas Kirk 73), Gonzalo Martinez (Domenic Mediate 73), Bryan Namoff (Dane Murphy 78), Dan Stratford (Brady Renfrow 89), Franco Niell (Jamil Walker 47).
San Jose Earthquakes (4-4-2): Dan Benton, Jason Hernandez, Ryan Cochrane, Nick Garcia, James Riley (Chris Pozniak 74), Shea Salinas (Yuri Morales 66), Joe Vide, Ramiro Corrales (J.P. Rodrigues 74), Matt Taylor, Ned Grabavoy (John Fishbaugher 82), Kei Kamara (Adam Smarte 82).
DC - Marc Burch caution (reckless foul) 10
DC - Dan Stratford caution (reckless foul) 11
SJ - Joe Vide caution (reckless foul) 12
DC - Devon McTavish caution (reckless foul) 14
Notes: The team left California late Sunday night on a red-eye and arrived back in D.C. first thing Sunday morning. The team has a few days off, before reconvening for training at RFK Stadium on Thursday and Friday. The team's final leg of pre-season takes place in San Antonio from February 29 - March 9... Special thanks to Frank Stranzl, Cal Poly Sports Information Intern, for putting together Sunday's game summary.