The first road victory of the year for the San Jose Earthquakes came on their third time trying, as they knocked off an injury-ridden Metrostars team at Giants Stadium through a Ronald Cerritos goal on the hour.
Assistant John Doyle was in charge, as head coach Dominic Kinnear was not with the team due to an illness in his family. He was happy with the way his team responded to an early charge from the MetroStars.
"I think the Metrostars in the first 30 minutes played really well. They came to us, were offensively minded and had some good chances. After that we were able to figure them out, get our shape right and be sound defensively. We were able to counterattack well," Doyle said. "We wanted to see what they were bringing in the first half -- and they were bringing a lot. At halftime we adjusted a little bit; we had weathered the storm and came out stronger in the second half."
The first half-hour did indeed bring an onslaught from the MetroStars, still looking for their first home win. An early shot from Amado Guevara cracked off the post in the 14th minute, and a little after the half hour, a neat flick-on header from Sergio Galvan Ray glanced off the face of the crossbar. But the Earthquakes defense stood firm and the team adjusted well.
Inspirational in the midfield was Dwayne De Rosario. Having dropped back from an out-and-out striking role to an attacking midfield position, he looked impressive and was dangerous every time he touched the ball.
"Dominic Kinnear switched him into that role a couple of weeks ago," said Doyle, "and since then we've had a win, a tie and a win, so something is working."
Added De Rosario: "I'm very comfortable in this role now, playing attacking midfield. I'm able to determine and dictate how the attack should go, how I want it to flow, and I feel comfortable in that position."
The goal came through some great play by De Rosario, probing the Metrostars defense to determine a new line of attack. With a run up the left flank, he drew out the MetroStars defense to open a path for Brad Davis. De Rosario then deftly backheeled the ball to Davis, who was able to cross to the far post for Cerritos to have an easy game-winning header.
"It was a great run by Brad," said De Rosario. "I saw him coming across the field with the run, so I went at the defense to drag the two of them out. I shielded between them and was able to backheel to him. Then Cerritos had a great finish."
Said Cerritos: "I'm happy, obviously. Every forward wants to score. But I'm also happy with the service from Brad and Dwayne.
"We didn't start well," he added "But everybody was talking, everybody was working, everybody was fighting. And with that we deserved to win the game. It's a big three points from this game for us."
After a late flurry from the home team, including some heart-stopping moments with the ball careening around a crowded box, the Earthquakes held on and the game finished with the lone goal from Cerritos the difference.
For the Earthquakes, it was their first victory at Giants Stadium since Sept. 22, 1999. Every game they have played this year has been a tie, or decided by a single goal.
Laurence Moroney is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.