SAN JOSE, Calif. - The San Jose Earthquakes have enjoyed a record-breaking MLS regular season, heading into the final two games of the year with a league-best 17-4-9 record and as only the second team in league history to total 60 points or more. Throughout their dominant season, six members of the Quakes have proven to be the class of the league and are prime candidates for MLS season-ending awards.
Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear is a top contender for MLS Coach of the Year. In his second season in charge of the Quakes, Kinnear oversaw a full overhaul of the roster, bringing in a total of 18 new players who were not with the team in 2004. Despite losing such established stars as Landon Donovan, Jeff Agoos and Richard Mulrooney, among others; Kinnear revamped the Quakes by adding impact performers in the off-season like Ricardo Clark, Wade Barrett, Danny Califf, Alejandro Moreno, Ronald Cerritos and Brad Davis. Early season injuries to starting defenders Craig Waibel and Troy Dayak, as well as serious injuries suffered by 2004 leading scorer Brian Ching and midfielder Brian Mullan threatened to derail the Quakes early on, but Kinnear quickly added accomplished professionals Kelly Gray and Mark Chung to the squad. Kinnear has guided the Quakes to the best record in the league and to within one point of clinching the Supporter's Shield for best overall record in the regular season. His .600 wining percentage is now second all time in MLS history, trailing only Bruce Arena, and Kinnear's team has only four losses through 30 games. If the Quakes do not lose in their final two games, Kinnear's Quakes will set the MLS record for fewest losses in a season. The Quakes have been the class of MLS throughout 2005, as Kinnear guided the Quakes though some early season struggles to run off a seven-game unbeaten streak before losing to D.C. United on July 15. That was the last time San Jose lost an MLS game, as Kinnear and the Quakes are currently on a 12-game unbeaten streak. Kinnear has the Quakes poised to make MLS history with a win or tie Saturday against Real Salt Lake, as the Quakes could become the first MLS team to go unbeaten at home throughout an entire season. San Jose is currently riding a record 17-game unbeaten streak at Spartan.
Dwayne De Rosario has stepped into the midfield for San Jose this season, and quickly evolved into one of the most feared playmakers in the league and a top candidate for Honda Most Valuable Player. The Canadian international leads MLS with 12 assists in 2005, including five-game winning assists. De Rosario has also added a career-high seven goals this season, with four of them being game-winners. De Rosario has played 26 games for San Jose, and is just two assists shy of Eddie Lewis' all-time club record for most assists in a season. De Rosario has added another dimension to the Earthquakes attack, spearheading a San Jose offense that is one of the most feared in the league. But De Rosario has also made an impact with his all-around game, consistently winning balls in midfield and providing the Quakes with a defensive presence as well.
Earthquakes goalkeeper Pat Onstad is in search of his second MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Award, and the 37-year old is the clear frontrunner for the honor. Onstad has enjoyed one of the finest seasons for a goalkeeper in MLS history, as he currently leads the league in shutouts (12, new Quakes season record), goals against average (0.93), saves percentage (78.0) and wins (17). Onstad earned his 27th career MLS shutout on October 1, breaking the all-time San Jose shutout record. Onstad has been the best goalkeeper in the league in 2005, and with shutouts in his next two games could set the record for the lowest goals against average in MLS history. Onstad's 12 shutouts this year is the second most ever recorded in a single MLS season, and the Canadian international has helped as the Quakes continue to lead MLS with only 28 goals allowed.
As the Quakes lead MLS with only 28 goals allowed, central defenders Eddie Robinson and Danny Califf have emerged as the top two candidates for the MLS Defender of the Year award. Robinson has started and played in 28 games this season, scoring one goal and registering one assist. But it is his aggressive and tough as nails defending that has made the San Jose defense the best in the league. Robinson has been one of the top defenders in the league, consistently matching up against the opposing teams top scoring forward. Since Robinson has been paired with Califf in the center of the defense beginning on May 25, the Quakes have recorded 10 shutouts with either one or the other on the field. In their first seven games together the Quakes posted five shutouts and allowed just two goals. The duo has played 17 games together for at least 45 minutes or more, and in those contests the Quakes have recorded eight shutouts, put together an 11-2-4 record and outscored opponents 25-11.
After only appearing in 13 games a year ago for Los Angeles, Califf has re-established himself as one of the top defenders in the league and the leader of the best defense in MLS. Califf missed the first eight games of the season with a right knee sprain, but since joining Robinson in central defense has given San Jose the most intimidating pair of defenders in the league. Califf has two goals in 19 games this season, while providing strong, powerful marking ability while organizing the league-leading defensive core.
Already the all-time leading goal in Earthquakes history, the career of 30-year old Ronald Cerritos was rejuvenated in 2005 when he re-joined the club after a three-year absence, and he is a leader for the MLS Comeback Player of the Year award, as well as the Individual Fair Play award. Cerritos has started 27 games for the Quakes, making more starts then he did in the previous two seasons combined. In becoming the Earthquakes all-time leading assist leader, Cerritos has poured in six goals and eight assists, his highest totals since 2001. Cerritos already has been on the field for over 2,000 minutes, the most minutes he has logged since 1999, proving that he is fully recovered from the knee injuries that had limited him since 2002. In his ninth MLS season, the crafty veteran has added a dangerous and essential dynamic to the team's attack in helping the Quakes to the best record in MLS. Cerritos has also been the epitome of a pure sportsman throughout the season. While infusing the San Jose offense with flair and athleticism, Cerritos is just one of six field players in MLS to play in 25 or more of their team's games without receiving a yellow or red card. Cerritos has been whistled for just 20 fouls in 2,251 minutes, proving that he plays well, but always as a gentleman, and always fairly.
The Earthquakes finish their home slate with a match against Real Salt Lake on Saturday, October 8 at 7:00 p.m. PT at Spartan Stadium. The game will air live on radio on 1590 AM KLIV (English) and 1370 AM KZSF (Spanish).