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SAN JOSE, Calif.
7 pm PT (FSN-W2)
Still the only team to have clinched a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs, the San Jose Earthquakes return home - where they haven't lost in league play this season - to begin a stretch of four of their next six games at Spartan Stadium. Just a point behind the New England Revolution in the chase for the Supporters' Shield, the Quakes play host to Chivas USA - who are still looking for their first win ever on their travels. The point they gained in a wild draw in San Jose in the second game of the season on April 9 was their first and only, until gaining draws in their last two road matches.
REFEREE: Ben Jones. SAR (bench): George Gansner; JAR (opposite): Paul Scott; 4th: Ricardo Valenzuela
MLS Career: 6 games; FC/gm: 29.0; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 2; pens: 2
Games involving Earthquakes: P2 W1 L0 T1; FC/gm: 30.5; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 0; pens: 2
Games involving Chivas USA: first game
INJURY REPORT: SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: MF Brad Davis (L groin strain); DF Craig Waibel (R knee torn ACL/LCL); DF Troy Dayak (L knee torn ACL); QUESTIONABLE: FW Brian Ching (R hamstring strain) ... CHIVAS USA - OUT: MF Francisco Gomez (L quadriceps strain); MF Hector Castro (L knee ACL surgery); DF Armando Begines (L knee strain); DOUBTFUL: DF Victor Arbelaez (L adductor strain); PROBABLE: FW Thiago Martins (L ankle sprain); DF Orlando Perez (R foot plantar fascitis)
WARNINGS: SJ: Brad Davis (18 CP) ... CHV: Hector Cuadros (19 CP)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
HEAD-TO-HEAD This is the third meeting between the two clubs, the second at Spartan Stadium and the first of a home-and-home series over the next two weeks.
Coaches record: Dominic Kinnear vs. CDC: P2 W0 L0 D2... Hans Westerhof v SJ: P1 W0 L0 D1
ALL-TIME (2 meetings): Earthquakes 0 wins, 4 goals ... Chivas USA 0 wins, 4 goals ... 2 draws
AT SPARTAN STADIUM: (1 meeting): Earthquakes 0 wins, 3 goals ... Chivas USA 0 wins, 3 goals ... 1 draw
THIS SEASON The teams have played to draws in their first two meetings, a 3-3 match on April 9 in San Jose and then a 1-1 draw June 12 in southern California.
The teams met for the first time ever on April 9 at Spartan Stadium, a late goal giving Chivas USA a 3-3 draw with the Earthquakes.
Chivas USA also gained their first point and scored their first goal in a wild match. Thiago Martins scored the first goal in club history after just three minutes, touching home an Orlando Perez cross from the left flank. But just before the break the Earthquakes pulled level through some freekick magic by Brad Davis, who curled the ball around the wall and inside the left post from almost on the top of the area.
Hector Cuadros again gave Chivas the lead when he powerfully headed home an Ezra Hendrickson cross (73), but the Quakes responded with two goals in four minutes, both from Davis services on free kicks. First Troy Dayak leaped up and sent a looping header over Chivas goalkeeper Brad Guzan from a nearly impossible angle (75), then Brian Ching scored his first goal of the season, knifing to nod home at the near post.
But then just after the 90 minutes ticked over, Chivas scored on a set piece of their own. Jesus Ochoa floated in a free kick from the left into the area where Douglas Sequeira fought off a challenge and spun a header past Pat Onstad inside his left-hand post for the equalizer.
LAST MEETING Both teams saw winless streaks extended on June 12 at The Home Depot Center as Chivas USA came back to claim a second draw with the Earthquakes on the season.
A quick counter-attack gave the visitors the lead just before the end of the first half. Dwayne De Rosario hit a ball over the Chivas back three and Alejandro Moreno raced to collect it before sliding it past Brad Guzan in the Chivas goal (45).
But after some intense pressure, Chivas finally leveled the match when Ramon Ramirez's pinpoint cross from the left was turned home at the back post by Ezra Hendrickson (66).
Chivas had twice hit the post - a clear header from Isaac Romo and a powerful free kick from Francisco Mendoza - though the 'Quakes had one of their own come off the woodwork when Mark Chung's header hit the bar. San Jose then had an apparent stoppage-time match-winner from De Rosario controversially ruled out for offside.
Here's Hans Westerhof's team (3-1-3-3): Brad Guzan - Alfonso Loera, Ryan Suarez (Arturo Torres 76), Armando Begines - Douglas Sequeira - Ezra Hendrickson, Antonio Martinez (Hector Cuadros 61), Ramon Ramirez (Orlando Perez 84)- Thiago Martins, Isaac Romo, Francisco Mendoza
Here's Dominic Kinnear's team (4-3-1-2): Pat Onstad - Chris Aloisi, Danny Califf, Eddie Robinson (Ryan Cochrane 75), Wade Barrett - Mark Chung (Julian Nash 76), Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis - Dwayne De Rosario - Ronald Cerritos (Wes Hart 81), Alejandro Moreno
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The San Jose Earthquakes extended their league unbeaten run to seven games, winning for the third match on the trot as they defeated FC Dallas 2-0 at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas on Saturday evening. Having already clinched a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs, the Quakes extended their advantage atop the Western Conference to 11 points, now with 47 points from 25 matches, one behind the New England Revolution in the race for the MLS Supporters' Shield signifying the league's best overall record.
The Earthquakes extended their streak to seven league matches without a loss while piling on the frustration for FC Dallas, who have now gone nine league games without a victory, all since the start of July.
The Quakes put the game away with two goals in a four-minute span just after the start of the second half. In the 50th minute, Mark Chung latched onto a loose ball on the left and whipped in a pinpoint cross that found an unmarked Ronald Cerritos behind an FCD defense that hadn't completely pulled out, and he easily headed home.
Then Chung slipped the ball to Alejandro Moreno on the edge of the penalty area, and after skipping along the top of the box he drove a low, skimming shot inside Scott Garlick's left-hand post to seal the contest (53).
Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear made one change to the team that defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy 2-1 at Spartan Stadium the previous weekend. Dwayne De Rosario was away on international duty with Canada, and rookie Danny O'Rourke came back into central midfield in his place.
Here's Kinnear's team (4-4-2): Pat Onstad - Kelly Gray, Danny Califf, Eddie Robinson (Ryan Cochrane 69), Wade Barrett - Brian Mullan, Ricardo Clark, Danny O'Rourke, Mark Chung - Ronald Cerritos (Brian Ching 75), Alejandro Moreno
"I told the guys to give themselves a round of applause in the locker room because they were so good tonight. They held together so well. We didn't give up too many great chances and the chances we got, we converted. I felt when we had the ball, we played smartly. Ronald's (Cerritos) finish was excellent. Alejandro (Moreno) took his chance well. It was a very efficient performance tonight."
TEAM NEWS Even though San Jose was the first team to clinch a playoff spot, the team continues to surge forward and build off every opportunity to improve the team.
"If you look at it points-wise, we have a good little lead here, but there are still seven games left and 21 points available and a lot of them are in-conference games," Kinnear said. "We play Dallas again and L.A. again, so we are happy where we are but there is no way can we sit and be content. We have to continue to keep doing what we are doing."
Since the beginning of June, the Earthquakes have lost just once in league play, a 3-0 defeat by D.C. United on July 15 that ended a three-game road swing. Since that time, the Quakes have taken 34 of a possible 45 points.
"Obviously, you want to peak when you hit the playoffs. I think we are playing very well right now; we are very tough to beat," Kinnear said. "We are taking our chances and that was a great road victory tonight. We held the ball, and when you have chances, you must execute on them. Tonight, we were very efficient."
Over the last 16 games, the Quakes have allowed more than one goal on just two occasions - the loss to United and a 2-2 draw with FC Dallas on July 2.
"We have a great defending team. I've said it before, your defense is part of your goalkeeper stats. I think the guys have done fantastic in front," Onstad said. "Tonight, all five guys came up, played great, and limited their opportunities."
Said Kinnear: " I took Eddie (Robinson) out of the game 60 minutes in, but Ryan (Cochrane) was playing well for us recently and he did again tonight. Defensively, it's not just the back line, it's the top players providing pressure and the midfielders eliminating plays. The entire 11 is playing well right now."
With Dwayne De Rosario away with the Canadian national team, Ricardo Clark filled the advanced role in central midfield with Danny O'Rourke in more of a holding role.
"I usualy play in the defensive midfield role, but today with Dwayne De Rosario gone I had to push up a little bit," said Clark. "I got to create some more chances and be a little more dangerous. I created a couple of chances and should have finished a couple of them, but our forwards took care of that and we got the win."
Brian Ching made his first league appearance since June 25. His last start for the Earthquakes came May 14, when he suffered a hamstring injury for the first time that limited him to just two appearances before last weekend's match.
"The team is playing well right now. I can't say enough about the performance they put in tonight. It was a hot and muggy night and it was tough moving around. After 20 minutes out there, I was sucking wind. I can't imagine what those guys were feeling out there throughout the whole game," said Ching.
Chivas USA saw their winless streak reach six games, losing for the first time after back-to-back draws on the road in a 3-0 loss to the Columbus Crew at The Home Depot Center on Saturday evening. Chivas are still in last place in the Western Conference with 14 points from 26 matches, 17 behind fourth-place Colorado Rapids with just six matches remaining (and the Rapids with two matches in hand).
The last-place Columbus Crew kept touch with the remainder of the East with a third consecutive victory - all by shutout - this time a dominant victory against Chivas USA, who were all but eliminated from postseason consideration.
Cornell Glen gave the Crew the lead in the 34th minute, claiming a poorly-hit clearance and racing forward alone on goal, slipping the ball under charging Chivas USA 'keeper Sergio Garcia (making his MLS debut) at the edge of the area.
John Wolyniec then scored twice in 10 minutes to kill off the match. On the hour, Glen raced onto a long ball played down the left flank and pulled a low pass back from the byeline where Wolyniec came rushing forward to slam home a low shot.
Then in the 69th minute, Glen burst forward on the left and again sent a low angled shot goalward, this time kicked out by Garcia. But Wolyniec was quickest to the rebound and drove it into the back of the net.
The loss left Chivas USA's postseason hopes in dire straits as any combination of one point won by the Rapids or lost by Chivas means they will be eliminated from the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Chivas USA boss Hans Westerhof made two changes to the team that played to a 2-2 draw with FC Dallas the previous weekend at Pizza Hut Park. Francisco Mendoza returned to the team, coming in for Armando Begines as Orlando Perez moved to the back line, while Matt Taylor made his first league appearance since July 16, coming in for Arturo Torres.
Here's Westerhof's team (4-2-1-3): Sergio Garcia - Ezra Hendrickson, Douglas Sequeira, Esteban Arias, Orlando Perez - Ramon Ramirez (Isaac Romo 70), Francisco Mendoza - Juan Pablo Garcia (Armando Begines 70) - Matt Taylor (Thiago Martins 65), Juan Francisco Palencia, Antonio Martinez
TEAM NEWS Mexican reinforcements Francisco "Paco" Palencia, Juan Pablo "Loquito" Garcia and Sergio "Matute" Garcia made their Home Depot Center debut, but it was all for nothing.
"We thought this was a new start with Paco and Loco and Matute," Westerhof said. "We wanted to have the best game of the tournament and I think you could see from the beginning that sometimes you need a little bit more patience and a little bit more time."
The high expectations the club had set with a pair of road draws ultimately unraveled in the ever-exhausting fruitless search of an equalizer.
"I made a mistake," Chivas captain Ramon Ramirez said. "The goal came when we were playing our best game, but we lost our organization on the field because we tried to tie the game."
After five goals in the first two games with the so-called Mexican Artillery, getting shutout was a difficult result for Chivas.
"It's just a matter of understanding each other, of adapting to this league, this team and this system," Garcia said. "That's basically what is missing right now."
Said Westerhof: "Juan Pablo wants to show the world that he's a good player and he wants to win every ball. Sometimes it's better to let Ramon do the building up and come a little bit closer to Paco so they can better occupy their positions."
Sergio Garcia made his MLS debut, coming in for 20-year-old Brad Guzan between the posts. "This was a good opportunity to test his skills and he did not play bad," Westerhof said. "The goals weren't Matute's fault. The first two goals came off mistakes in the midfield and they did well with their counters. I don't think Matute was at fault in any of the three goals."