The long layoff for the All-Star break clearly had no lasting effect on the San Jose Earthquakes, who kept their steady form going with a 2-0 victory against the Portland Timbers in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night at PGE Park.
"It took us a little bit of time to get into it, but then we started to play well," said Earthquakes coach Dominic Kinnear. "We did some good stuff in both halves and created problems for them. We moved the ball well and I don't think we showed too much rust."
The Earthquakes struck for goals in each half as they beat a former teammate - Timbers 'keeper Josh Saunders. Wade Barrett scored in the 27th minute then Brian Mullan put the game away after the hour.
"We did well limiting their chances and we created a number of opportunities for ourselves. Josh Saunders made some good saves to keep them in it," Kinnear said. "Give Portland credit because they played hard and never gave up. I was happy with our performance."
Barrett once again got forward to score the opening goal for the Quakes, answering a number of good chances early for the home side.
"We had a lot of joy attacking on the outside and that play was a perfect example of that," he said. "Brad (Davis) got the ball wide and Brian (Mullan) made a great run to the near post and I was wide open in front of the net. I was able to finish it which was nice because we had some good chances in the first half that we didn't score."
Flank play has been a hallmark of the Quakes success all season, and Wednesday was no different. Both goals came from crosses, the first from Brad Davis, who had missed the last six league matches with San Jose while on international duty with the U.S. national team.
"I feel very comfortable with these guys. I was gone for some games, but we have a great team so it is easy to play with these guys," Davis said. "Hopefully we can continue to have success."
Then after the break, the Quakes second goal came from the other side.
"Kelly (Gray) played the ball out to Ian (Russell) on the right hand side and I checked back to him and then I spun off," goal scorer Mullan said. "Ian (Russell) played a perfect ball and I ran onto it. I teased the goalie a bit and then I put it right by him."
Jon Conway was given the start in goal for the first time this season, after Pat Onstad had started each of the first 20 league games for the Earthquakes. Despite seeing a late strike crash off the crossbar, Conway ended with a sixth shutout in Open Cup play in his career.
"Our guys matched their intensity and had a strong game tonight," Conway said. "The guys in front of me did a good job tonight, especially (center backs) Danny (Califf) and Eddie (Robinson) and we were able to go through. We also scored two nice goals."
Next up for the Earthquakes will be seeing if they can put another streak to rest. They take on the Los Angeles Galaxy in the quarterfinals - set for Spartan Stadium on Wed., Aug. 24. The Galaxy knocked out the Earthquakes in the quarterfinals three successive years, from 2000-2002, once winning on penalties and once on a golden goal, also winning twice in northern California (one at Spartan Stadium).