the key to the Earthquakes' attack all night long -- gave the Quakes the winner in the 83rd minute. After chasing down an overstruck corner on the left wing, Francisco Lima chipped a long cross to Ryan Johnson inside the box. Johnson headed the ball down to an onrushing Huckerby, who headed home from close range.
Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop made one change to the team that played to a scoreless draw with Chivas USA. With Ramiro Corrales injured, Ned Grabavoy came into the central midfield.
Here's Yallop's team (4-4-2): Joe Cannon - James Riley, Jason Hernandez, Nick Garcia, Eric Denton - Ronnie O'Brien, Ned Grabavoy (Ryan Johnson 67), Francisco Lima, Darren Huckerby - Arturo Alvarez (Shea Salinas 81), Scott Sealy (Jovan Kirovski 90). Substitutes Not Used: Ryan Cochrane, John Cunliffe, Kelly Gray, Michael Gustavson
"It was a good three points and an important time in the season to win. I thought we played well the first half, the first 20 minutes of the second was poor, we allowed Kansas City back into the game; but is great to come back and win the game in the end," Yallop said. "It is a sign of a good team that sticks together and doesn't quit."
Huckerby has provided a real boost to the Earthquakes attack from his wide left position. The Quakes haven't lost in the six games since he's come into the squad, and he has been part of six of the 10 goals San Jose has scored in that time (three goals, three assists).
"I think he is really enjoying his football to be honest. You look at him off the field and around the building and he is just flying. He just wants to get the ball because every time he gets the ball he feels like he can do something. He is going to go against anybody and beat them," Yallop said. "He was great tonight. It is very exciting to watch him, I get on the edge of my seat when he gets the ball and I am coaching."
The last time San Jose allowed more than one goal in a game was in their first meeting with D.C., a 3-1 loss on June 29. Since then, the Quakes have conceded just six goals in nine games.
"We feel comfortable we can win. We have D.C. and then Houston which are two tough games, but we have confidence that we can win both. We have already played the best teams home and away and we have done OK," Yallop said. "There is no guarantee that we are going to win every game but there is a guarantee that we are going to give everything we have and not quit and keep going."
With the victory, the Quakes moved out of the Western Conference basement for the first time since mid-May. It is the first time in their expansion season that they have been as high as a tie for fifth in the conference.
"The pressure is building now because we are now fighting for the playoffs. We have a good streak going and we want to keep building on that and get a spot in the playoffs," said Ryan Johnson. "We have developed a winning mentality here now and hopefully that will take us through to the end of the year."
On Tuesday, the Earthquakes took on the USL1 Seattle Sounders in a friendly at Buck Shaw Stadium, going down to a 2-1 defeat. Jamil Roberts put the Quakes into a 40th-minute lead, but second-half goals from Kenji Treschuk and Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar gave the Sounders the victory.
Here's Yallop's team: Michael Gustavson, Jamil Roberts, Ryan Cochrane (Gavin Glinton 46), Jay Ayres, Ryan Johnson (Ned Grabavoy 70), Adam Smarte (Ronnie Ekelund 74), Kelly Gray, John Cunliffe, Shea Salinas (Ian Russell 88), Jovan Kirovski, Mikel Arce
"I can't worry about a friendly result," said Yallop. "I've got to worry about whether one of these guys can give me a 90-minute game, 20 minutes, whatever, and they'll be more ready than they were before this match. That's what this game was for. It's more of an individual thing than a collective team result."
On Thursday, the Quakes announced the signing of forward Michael Ghebru and Davide Somma. Ghebru, 20, was born in Germany and played in the youth system at three different clubs. He spent time with Offenbacher Fotball Club Kickers 1901, MSV Duisburg and Eintracht Frankfurt. Ghebru will count as an international on the Earthquakes roster. Somma, 23, was born in South Africa, but has Italian citizenship and also possesses a green card. He has spent time with three Italian clubs in his career. He started his career with Perugia in 2004, before signing with FC Pro Vasto in 2005. Somma played most recently for Olbia Calcio.
D.C. UNITEDD.C. United broke their string of alternating wins and losses, settling for a scoreless draw with the New York Red Bulls in the final Atlantic Cup meeting of the season on Saturday night at RFK Stadium. United and the Red Bulls remain tied for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, both with 32 points from 22 matches, three behind the Chicago Fire.
United had alternated wins and losses for six matches, while the Red Bulls were riding a three-game winning streak and five games unbeaten overall.
After each team had claimed 4-1 wins at home in the first two meetings between the clubs, a shock goalless result seemed certain -- until about 10 minutes from the end. A challenge from Andrew Boyens arrived an instant too late on Jaime Moreno and referee Kevin Stott pointed to the penalty spot. The all-time MLS scoring leader stepped up to bury the spot kick as usual, yet left the home crowd stunned when he drilled his bid wide of the left post.
United head coach Tom Soehn made one change to the team that defeated the Colorado Rapids 3-0 the previous weekend. Marc Burch came back from suspension, replacing Craig Thompson.
Here's Soehn's team (4-4-2): Louis Crayton - Bryan Namoff, Gonzalo Martinez, Devon McTavish, Marc Burch (Marcelo Gallardo 70) - Santino Quaranta, Clyde Simms, Joe Vide, Ivan Guerrero - Luciano Emilio (Francis Doe 46+) (Rod Dyachenko 77), Jaime Moreno. Substitutes Not Used: Ben Olsen, Craig Thompson, James Thorpe, Mike Zaher
"I don't think we were very good with the ball in the first half. We had to make a few adjustments," Soehn said. "The game was there to take it. We've been better with the soccer part than in the first half so I was a little disappointed coming into the locker room because we talked a lot about possession. I think we got better in the second half. The buildup to the penalty was pretty good soccer. Unfortunately the result of the penalty didn't go our way.
A welcome sign for United was the return of Marcelo Gallardo to action for the first time since June 29, a span of six league games missed with a sports hernia surgery.
"It's good to have people healthy again. You can see [Luciano's] struggling now with muscle [pain]. There's so many games that we play and unfortunately having so many people injured, you don't have a break. But that's how it is. You've got to keep digging in and keep working," said Jaime Moreno.
With the MLS Cup Playoffs - and play in the CONCACAF Champions League - approaching quickly, Soehn is trying to figure out how to tune his squad for the drive for a fifth MLS Cup. Moreno has started every league match since coming on as a halftime substitute on May 4 at Colorado, and was suffering from cramp near the end of the New York match.
"We've given these guys time off recently and we're going to keep managing it. It helps getting some guys back [from injury]," Soehn said. "Although it wasn't many minutes for some of them it was important to get them acclimated and playing a little bit. So hopefully we'll continue to give guys some minutes and it will allow us to rest other guys."
With the draw, United did keep the Atlantic Cup for another year; with the clubs level on points and goal differential over the season series, the holders maintain possession of the trophy awarded by the supporters' groups of the two clubs. United have won the Atlantic Cup in six of the seven years it has been contested for, holding it since 2004.
"It's good to have games like that this time of year. Both teams fought hard and it felt like nobody really wanted to make a mistake. It felt like a playoff game, it really did. It was a good fight. I think we should have won the game," said Santino Quaranta.
On Wednesday night, United won the U.S. Open Cup for the second time in club history, fending off the challenge of the USL First Division's Charleston Battery for a 2-1 victory. Luciano Emilio gave United a fourth-minute lead, but just six minutes later a thumping strike from Ian Fuller pulled the Battery level. But five minutes after the second half restart, Fred got free behind the Charleston defense and finished with aplomb for the eventual match-winner.
"Getting a chance to run around with a trophy in front of our fans, who deserve it more than anybody, is a great feeling. You remember that stuff. There are a lot of things you forget but situations and moments like that you remember. You want to taste that again. I hope they all got a great taste of it because there are other things that we still have to accomplish," Soehn said.
Here's the Open Cup-winning team: Louis Crayton - Marc Burch, Devon McTavish, Gonzalo Martinez, Bryan Namoff; Joe Vide (Fred 40), Ivan Guerrero, Clyde Simms, Santino Quaranta; Luciano Emilio (Rod Dyachenko 7 / Marcelo Gallardo 80), Jaime Moreno (Ryan Cordeiro 92+)
There are some guys, a lot of guys, still carrying injuries so you want to limit minutes. Unfortunately for Luciano [Emilio] I think he reaggravated his groin [injury]. I wasn't intending on using a sub that early but it's a little easier when you have four subs," Soehn said.