Just last week on July 9, Earthquakes veteran forward Ronald Cerritos scored against the Columbus Crew for his 70th MLS career goal, making him the seventh highest all-time goal scorer in the league. Almost exactly three years before, Cerritos reached his first milestone, notching his 50th MLS goal on July 18, 2001.
And Cerritos did so in high fashion. The Quakes forward found the net twice within a seven-minute span on July 18, 2001 at Spartan Stadium to help San Jose to a 4-0 stomping over D.C. United. Manny Lagos also netted two goals to go along with Cerritos' pair.
A crowd of 8,673 fans ventured to Spartan Stadium to watch the Earthquakes face the three-time MLS Cup Champion D.C. United, a team that San Jose had a five game unbeaten streak against at the time.
The Wednesday night game got off to a slow start, with both offenses silent through the most part of the first half. But in the 39th minute, Quakes midfielder Lagos finally broke through the United defense to give San Jose the 1-0 advantage. Defender Wade Barrett carried the ball down the left side of the field and passed to midfielder Landon Donovan. Donovan then one-timed a pass to Lagos across the field, where he positioned the ball for a shot from 20 yards out. His strike beat D.C. goalkeeper Mark Simpson and went into the near post.
Once they got going, the Quakes proved unstoppable. Just four minutes into the second half, Cerritos scored following a brilliant passing sequence. Dwayne De Rosario back heeled the ball to midfielder Ian Russell, who then sent a long cross into the center of the penalty box. Cerritos leapt up to connect with the cross to net the Quakes second goal of the night. The goal was Cerritos' 50th of his MLS career, and he became just the eighth player in the league to reach the scoring milestone.
"I'm very happy that my hard work has paid off in this way," said the Quakes forward following the July 18, 2001 game. "It's a good accomplishment to score 50 goals in a strong league like MLS. My teammates created the goals for me tonight and I was able to finish them."
Lagos was back into his scoring mode once again four minutes after Cerritos' goal. D.C. forward Chris Albright just outside of the penalty box took down the Quakes midfielder. Lagos took the free kick himself in the 53rd minute, bending the ball over the United wall and into the net for his second goal of the night and fourth in two straight games.
D.C. United would reward the Earthquakes with yet another great scoring opportunity after a defensive mistake in the 56th minute. De Rosario started the play when he received the ball in the United penalty box and got entangled with D.C. defender Ryan Nelsen. The two battling players both ended up on the ground where Nelsen accidentally touched the ball with his hand. The referee blew the whistle to give the Quakes a penalty kick. Cerritos volunteered to take it, and rifled a shot past goalkeeper Simpson into the left corner of the net for his second goal of the night, the 51st of his career, and the Quakes fourth goal within 19 minutes of the July 18, 2001 match.
After the final whistle blew, head coach Frank Yallop was pleased with the Earthquakes 4-0 shutout victory over D.C. United.
"I'm really happy with the win tonight," he said after the game. "We finished a lot of our chances unlike some other games where we created chances, but couldn't put them away. We especially played well in the second half; we came out strong and our defending got a lot better."
But all in all, the night revolved around Ronald Cerritos' milestone, as he still remains the only player to score over 50 goals for the San Jose Earthquakes. To do so in less than five seasons is truly a remarkable feat.
After a three year hiatus from the Quakes with stints in Dallas and later Washington D.C., the veteran forward is back with the Earthquakes. Now 30 years old, Cerritos continues to add to his tallies and recently reached the 70-goal mile mark on July 9, 2005 and his 60th in a San Jose uniform.
"When I look back at that, I am really happy with those numbers, especially because it is with this team," Cerritos said. "That means I have been in this league a long time, nine years in MLS and most of them with San Jose, so it is a big thing for me to be able to contribute to this team that has given so much to me."
But Cerritos doesn't take the credit for himself. Rather, the humble forward attributes his success to his Earthquakes teammates from his six years with the club.
"To have numbers like that, it really is a team thing. I don't know how long I will be playing, but I hope to add to those numbers for this team. I feel good right now and I just hope to be able to continue playing the way I have been."