After a week-long road trip with a solid 2-0 win over the Kansas City Wizards, the San Jose Earthquakes return to Spartan Stadium on Saturday, August 21 for a big game against the Dallas Burn, the only team to find success against the Quakes at home in 2004.
The Burn won the teams' last meeting by a score of 2-1 on July 7, ruining the Quakes' 2004 unbeaten home record at Spartan Stadium. Emotions ran high during both the beginning and end of the match. Eric Quill of the Burn and Quakes midfielder Ramiro Corrales both scored within the first ten minutes, but the game then remained silent until the final minutes when Burn midfielder Simo Valakari scored in the last moment of regulation time. The Quakes had a great opportunity to score in stoppage time after a foul was called in the Burn goal box, but Landon Donovan failed to capitalize on the potential game-tying penalty kick.
Though the Quakes broke their seven-game winning streak against Dallas with the 2-1 loss on July 7, the team hopes to return to their winning ways against the Burn. San Jose has recently dominated the Burn-Earthquakes season series, winning nine of their last 11 match-ups and outscoring Dallas 28-9. The Quakes also have the upper hand all-time against the Burn with a 17-13-0 career record against the Texas team.
The Quakes are still desperately trying to climb out of the cellar of the Western Conference charts. With the Burn just two points in front of the Earthquakes, Dallas is definitely within San Jose's sight. Saturday's game proves to be a huge match, as a win would propel San Jose over Dallas and into playoff contention.
"If we win this game, we'll be in at least fourth place, and maybe even third," said Earthquakes midfielder Brian Mullan. "We don't think we deserve to be in the bottom of the charts, so this will be a great opportunity for us to move up in the standings, keep our streak rolling, and get our confidence up for the rest of the year."
The Quakes not only have good history against the Dallas team, but are also coming into the game off a huge 2-0 win on the road over the Kansas City Wizards. San Jose is looking to carry their recent aggressive play into the Dallas game to continue their campaign for a better second half of the season.
"I don't think beating the second-place team is a big surprise for us," said forward Brian Ching about the Quakes dominant play over the Wizards. "But we will definitely try to carry that momentum into the game on Saturday. This is the perfect time for us to continue making a statement in the second half of the season."
Not only will the league-leading goal-scorer be carrying the team's big win over Kansas City into tomorrow's match, but he will also be coming off of a huge personal feat. On Wednesday, August 18, Ching scored his first career international goal with the U.S. National Team in their World Cup Qualifying match against Jamaica. His game-tying goal came off of a pass from none other than Earthquakes teammate Landon Donovan.
"The game against Jamaica and the great goal by Brian definitely give us confidence coming into this game," said the Quakes forward. "I just love playing with him. We just always seem to know where the other person is on the field. It's great to have someone like that to play with."
The two international stars are ready to continue their dominant offensive play against Dallas. When the dangerous duo of Donovan and Ching have started as forwards together this year, the Earthquakes have been unbeaten and the two have combined for 29 points in just six appearances. Also, Donovan has individually broken down the Burn defense more than any other MLS team, registering seven goals and three assists in his last six games against Dallas. Combine that with his career hot play in August (11 goals and five assists in the month), and the Burn will have to concentrate on putting out the Donovan fire tomorrow.
Recent success against the Burn and home field advantage aside, the Earthquakes are looking at Saturday's match as a great opportunity to move out of the bottom of the table and are only concentrating on getting the win. The team is taking every game seriously for the rest of the season and is determined to play Earthquakes-quality soccer.
"We think we're the best team in the league," said Quakes midfielder Mullan. "We now feel confident all of the time and just have to show it on the field. Earlier this year we had some unlucky breaks, but now we have taken things into our own hands to prove where we belong."
The Quakes will continue their aggressive play in their quest to move up the standings when they take on conference-rival the Dallas Burn on Saturday, August 21 at 7:00 p.m. at Spartan Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on the radio on 1590 AM KLIV (English) and 1370 AM KZSF.