The San Jose Earthquakes will look to snap their three-game MLS losing streak on Saturday, July 17 at 1:00 p.m. PT when they take on former Quakes goalkeeper Joe Cannon and the Colorado Rapids at Spartan Stadium. The last-place Quakes are in dire need of a win so they can begin to move up out of the bottom of the Western Conference.
Though the Earthquakes are winless in their last five MLS meetings, going 0-3-2 since June 19, the Quakes will go into Saturday's game off of a win. San Jose defeated the A-league Portland Timbers 3-0 on Wednesday, July 14 during the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
"We needed that win," said forward/midfielder Landon Donovan. "We played a lot better today in training just because of it. The win doesn't cure everything, but hopefully it will help us start get rolling a little bit."
Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear was very pleased with the outcome of Wednesday's match, but more importantly with the Quakes play.
"Wednesday's win was good for our confidence," said Kinnear. "We had many good chances and played well around the box. Three different guys scored, and more players could have. But I think the best thing was that we kept pretty good possession of the ball the whole game. Our movement with the ball and our one- and two-touch play was better than we've been doing lately."
Hopefully for the Earthquakes, the win over the Timbers will help San Jose carry confidence into Saturday's match. The Quakes have historically been evenly matched against Colorado, posting a 15-16-2 all-time record against the Rapids. However, the Quakes are winless in the last four meetings with Colorado, going 0-3-1 since July 12, 2003.
"They're a team that played well against us here at home last year," said captain Jeff Agoos. "They've got the ability and the players to punish us. This year has been a situation where we've always been punished for our mistakes and we don't capitalize on our chances, so we need to turn that around."
A win for the Quakes would not only equalize the all-time record vs. the Rapids, but would also help San Jose climb out of the Western Conference basement. The 2003 MLS Cup Champions are currently in last place after their three-game losing streak. Since the Quakes are already 14 points behind the first-place Los Angeles Galaxy, they need to start picking up points quickly.
"This is an important game," said Kinnear about the July 17 match. "Colorado is one of the teams that is sitting above us and we need to catch up. It's pretty disappointing where we are in the standings. All we can do now is control our own game and play, not worry about other teams, not worry about other results. We need to worry about the 90 minutes that we're going to play on Saturday."
With the team plagued by injuries and national team call-ups, Kinnear plans to start Saturday's game with yet another line-up. Donovan, who has played part of the season in the midfield, could start at forward along with Brian Ching after the pair played well together in the first half on Wednesday against Portland. Agoos appears ready to return from his lower back injury and also could start on Saturday. Kinnear is still uncertain about playing rookie defender Ryan Cochrane, who is recovering from a hip injury.
Saturday will also mark the return to Spartan of a former Quakes fan favorite. Goalkeeper Joe Cannon is expected to make his first start for Colorado against his former team at Spartan Stadium. Cannon played for the Quakes from 1999 to 2002 and still holds every single goalkeeper record for San Jose, except in the goals-against average category.
"No friends on Saturday," smiled Kinnear about playing against Cannon this weekend. "He's a good guy and a good goalkeeper. Even though he has a good history here with the players and fans, when the game starts you don't want to take any liberties with him."
Donovan, who keeps in touch with Cannon on a regular basis, also acknowledged that both the fans and the players are excited to see Colorado's keeper back in San Jose for the day.
"Joe could be the mayor here!" laughed Donovan. "He's the man. The fans love him; they'll cheer for him. Of course we'll take the goals if the opportunities come, but I hope it's a 1-0 win for us, because I like Joey."
Saturday's game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and on the radio on 1370 AM KZSF (Spanish). The first 5,000 fans will receive an Earthquakes lunch cooler sponsored by RadioShack, and the first 7,500 will get a 2004 Earthquakes team poster.