Following a U.S. Open Cup win in Minnesota over the Thunder just days before, the San Jose Earthquakes returned home to Spartan Stadium and MLS action when they played a crowd-pleaser against D.C. United on August 7, 2004. Not only was the 2-0 win enough to entertain the audience of 19,324, but the Quakes managed to break some records and win some awards during the match as well.
Forward Landon Donovan and defender Troy Dayak were both unable to play in the match while they served suspensions. But the 11 San Jose players on the field made up for the absence of the two familiar Quakes faces in their dominating performance over D.C.
In just the sixth minute, Earthquakes forward Brian Ching had a great opportunity to score right off the bat. Midfielder Brian Mullan crossed the ball into the middle of the United penalty area and found the foot of Ching. The forward volleyed a solid shot at the goal, but the ball went just wide of the left post.
Ever persistent, Mullan was in the middle of the offensive attack once again in the 17th minute. The midfielder took advantage of some confusion in front of the United goal to put the Earthquakes up 1-0 early in the match off of a pass from defender Jeff Agoos.
"I made a near post run, and Jeff crossed it perfectly into the middle," commented Mullan after the August 7, 2004 match. "I thought Todd [Dunivant] had it, and then it ended up to me and I just shot it. It hit one of their defenders, bounced back to me, and I decided to shoot it again, and it found a way to go in."
D.C. United had a great scoring chance just minutes after the Quakes' first goal, but the visiting team failed to capitalize on the opportunity. United forward Alecko Eskandarian ripped a bullet towards the San Jose goal in the 19tth minute from 18 yards out, but the Earthquakes' 2003 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Pat Onstad dove off of his line and punched the blast away from the net to preserve the shutout.
The Earthquakes continued to pressure D.C. United's net for the remainder of the first half without much in response from their opponents. It appeared that Craig Waibel's header in the 32nd minute had beaten D.C. goalkeeper Troy Perkins, but at the last moment, defender Bryan Namoff jumped up to head the shot away from the goal line and out of danger. The Earthquakes continued their offensive attack six minutes later with another header just missing the net, this time off of the head of Ching and over the crossbar. San Jose put forth one more attempt before the first-half whistle when Dwayne De Rosario sent a low header off of the left post in the 40th minute.
The Earthquakes were clinging to their 1-0 advantage well into the second half and almost relinquished the lead to D.C. in the 70th minute of the game. United midfielder Josh Gros dribbled his way around two Quakes defenders and unleashed a shot from the top of the goal box. Had it not been for a fully-extended and diving Onstad knocking the ball away from the width of the goal, the shot would have tied the game at one.
De Rosario finally sealed the deal for the Earthquakes with a phenomenal volley for a goal. Mullan sprinted with the ball down the right side of the field and deep into the right corner of the United penalty box. Mullan went on to beat his defender and sent a cross into the left middle area of the goal box where De Rosario was perfectly positioned. The Quakes midfielder jumped into the air and smashed a brilliant volley into the upper right hand corner of the net. His shot was so fast that even the television cameras barely kept up with the ball as it sailed into the goal.
"It was a great cross from Brian [Mullan]," commented De Rosario about the play leading up to the goal following the game. "I saw it coming and I just knew that I had to find a way to get it in. It felt good when I struck it, and I'm glad it went in. Whether it was a great goal or not, the important thing is getting the win."
The spectacular volley not only solidified the win for the Earthquakes over D.C. United, but also earned De Rosario the 2004 Sierra Mist Goal of the Year award at the end of the season.
Quakes head coach Dominic Kinnear praised the Canadian international's play after the game.
"It just shows you that Dwayne is dangerous when called upon. He's always ready whenever he steps out on the field. I was happy for him to get that goal because he was putting in such a great effort tonight. It was one of those kinds of goals you dream about. If he keeps scoring goals like that, it's hard to keep him out of this team."
By the final 90-minute mark, the Earthquakes had earned the 2-0 win over D.C. United, their first win over the D.C. team in almost a year.
"We could have scored a lot more goals than we did," continued Kinnear on August 7, 2004. "But I give all the credit to the guys for an all around great defensive performance. The zero makes me happy, and creates a sense of pride in the locker room."
The shutout would be Pat Onstad's second of the year and the 11th of his two-year MLS career. The Quakes goalkeeper would go on to earn four more shutouts in the 2004 season.
And as if to thank the 19,324 fans present at the match, the Quakes more importantly broke an MLS record in front of the then-biggest crowd of the 2004 season. With the win on August 7, 2004, the San Jose Earthquakes extended their unbeaten record at Spartan Stadium to 46 games when scoring first at home, the best record in league history.
"We want to win the games at home and get shutouts," said Kinnear. "That's what we came out here to do tonight, and we did."