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SAN JOSE, Calif.
7 pm PT (KFWD)
The San Jose Earthquakes and Dallas Burn meet in a hugely important match at the foot of the Western Conference table, the teams currently separated by just two points with the Quakes outside of the playoff paying positions. San Jose returns home after one of their finest performances of the campaign, a solid 2-0 victory against the Kansas City Wizards at Arrowhead Stadium. But the Burn are on the road for a second consecutive game after an equally impressive result, a 1-0 victory against Eastern Conference leaders MetroStars at Giants Stadium.
REFEREE: Ali Saheli. SAR (bench): Greg Barkey; JAR (opposite): David Bragg; 4th: Brian Hall
MLS Career: 57 games; FC/gm: 32.7; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 9; pens: 14
Games involving Earthquakes: P12 W6 L5 T1; FC/gm: 34.3; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 5; pens: 5
Games involving Burn: P11 W5 L6 T0; FC/gm: 33.4; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 1; pens: 3
INJURY REPORT: SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: DF Chris Roner (R ankle surgery); FW Jamil Walker (hip sprain); GK Steve Cronin (R hamstring strain); DOUBTFUL: DF Eddie Robinson (L hamstring rupture); QUESTIONABLE: DF Jeff Agoos (lower back strain) ... DALLAS BURN - NONE REPORTED
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
YELLOW PERIL: SJ: Ryan Cochrane (8 CP in 2 gms); Landon Donovan (17 CP); Richard Mulrooney (17 CP) ... DAL: Brad Davis (8 CP in 2 gms); Clarence Goodson (10 CP in 2 gms)
ALL-TIME (30 meetings): Earthquakes 13 wins (4 shootout), 53 goals ... Burn 17 wins (3 shootout), 35 goals ... 0 draws
AT SPARTAN STADIUM (15 meetings): Earthquakes 10 wins (4 shootout), 31 goals ... Burn 5 wins (2 shootout), 15 goals ... 0 draws
The teams play in the third of their four meetings this season, the second in San Jose. They'll play for the second time at the Cotton Bowl on the final day of the regular season (Oct. 16).
In their last meeting on July 7 at Spartan Stadium, the Burn scored a late winner then surviving an even later penalty to defeat the Earthquakes 2-1. The defending MLS Cup Champions fell for the first time at home in 2004 - the last team to lose at home - but only after a remarkable sequence in the game's final minutes.
Eric Quill gave the Burn a sixth-minute lead when he coolly rounded a defender and beat Pat Onstad from inside the area after his side took advantage of a giveaway. But just four minutes later Ramiro Corrales headed home cleanly on a corner kick to pull the home side level.
That was it until the 89th minute, when Simo Valakari scored his first MLS goal, leaving Onstad rooted to his line with a curling effort from outside the area.
But deep in added time, Milton Reyes was adjudged to have fouled Dwayne DeRosario while jockeying for a corner - and referee Hector Tobon awarded the penalty. Yet Jeff Cassar dove to his left to parry Landon Donovan's spot kick and preserve his side's victory.
Here's Dominic Kinnear's team (3-4-1-2): Pat Onstad - Wes Hart, Ryan Cochrane (Todd Dunivant 65), Craig Waibel - Ian Russell (Chris Brown 21) (Arturo Alvarez 72), Ronnie Ekelund, Richard Mulrooney, Ramiro Corrales - Landon Donovan - Brian Ching, Dwayne De Rosario
Here's Colin Clarke's side (4-1-4-1): Jeff Cassar - Philip Salyer, Cory Gibbs, Steve Jolley, Chris Gbandi - Simo Valakari - Milton Reyes, Brad Davis (Carey Talley 89), Ronnie O'Brien, Eric Quill (Matt Behncke 89) - Toni Nhleko
The Earthquakes won 2-1 at the Cotton Bowl on May 15 in their first meeting this season, scoring two opportunistic goals then riding the goalkeeping of Pat Onstad to escape with a victory.
Landon Donovan potted a rebound (13) to give San Jose the lead, after Brian Mullan hit the post with only Burn 'keeper Scott Garlick to beat from close range. Then in first-half stoppage time, Brian Ching got in front of a defender to stab home a Mullan cross from the right corner to double the lead at the break.
Eddie Johnson got free for a clear header on a Bobby Rhine cross from the right flank at the three-quarter mark (66) to pull a goal back for the home side, but they could get no more past Onstad, who recorded 10 saves on the night.
A year ago, the Earthquakes won all four meetings, the first time one club had swept the season series. A late winner gave the 'Quakes a 2-1 victory on June 14 at Dragon Stadium (Kreis 25 - Mullan 49, Alvarez 87), then San Jose won 3-0 at home on July 26 (Mullan 25, Lagos 37, Agoos 90 pen).
The Earthquakes won again by a 3-0 scoreline in Southlake on Aug. 13 (Ching 11; Donovan 23, 44), then they won 5-2 at Spartan Stadium on Sept. 27 (DeRosario 1, 11, 48; Donovan 24, 35 - Hendrickson 8, Curtis 14).
The Burn victory in the last meeting snapped a seven-match winning streak in the series by the Earthquakes (including the final two of the 2002 season). Still, San Jose has won nine of the last 11.
Six of the last 10 San Jose victories have been by shutout, and in two of those victories, the 'Quakes have scored five goals (Apr. 22, 2000: SJ 5, DAL 0; Sept. 27, 2003: SJ 5, DAL 2).
Jason Kreis leads the Burn's all-time scoring leaders against San Jose with 6 goals, 4 assists. The only other current Burn player with more than one goal is Bobby Rhine (3 goals); Oscar Pareja also has 3 assists.
Landon Donovan leads current Earthquakes players with 8 goals, 3 assists against Dallas; he's tied with Ronald Cerritos atop the club's all-time list v Dallas. Dwayne DeRosario also has 7 goals (and 1 assist). Jeff Agoos and Brian Mullan have scored 3 goals against the Burn; while in San Jose, Agoos has 1 goal, 1 assist, while Mullan has 2 goals, 4 assists.
Coaches record: Dominic Kinnear vs. DAL: P2 W1 L1 D0 ... Colin Clarke v SJ: P3 W1 L2 D0
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The San Jose Earthquakes showed they won't easily give up their grasp on the Alan I. Rothenberg Trophy, the defending MLS champion coming away from Kansas City with an impressive 2-0 victory on Saturday. Despite the victory, the Earthquakes still ended the weekend in fifth place in the Western Conference with 27 points from 20 matches, but now just seven points behind the West leaders Los Angeles Galaxy.
Landon Donovan put on a masterclass display, scoring twice to send the Wizards to a frustrating second consecutive defeat, and for the third time keeping Bob Gansler's club from taking over the Western Conference leadership.
Donovan sent home a glancing near-post header of a Brian Mullan cross to give the Earthquakes a 27th-minute lead, then doubled it just before the hour in fine fashion, running onto a through ball from Brian Ching and beating a couple of defenders on the run before slotting home past Tony Meola (59).
The Wizards saw Igor Simutenkov - making his first start of the season - rattle the woodwork on two occasions, and then after the match lost influential midfielder Chris Klein for the remainder of the campaign with a knee injury suffered late in the match.
Earthquakes boss Dominic Kinnear made two changes to the team that lost 2-1 to a 10-man Chicago Fire the previous Wednesday on the road. Troy Dayak returned to the starting lineup, coming into central defense for Jeff Agoos, while Landon Donovan also returned to the first XI, for Dwayne DeRosario.
Here's Kinnear's team (4-4-2): Pat Onstad - Craig Waibel, Ryan Cochrane, Troy Dayak, Todd Dunivant - Brian Mullan, Ronnie Ekelund (Tighe Dombrowski 72), Richard Mulrooney, Ramiro Corrales - Brian Ching (Ian Russell 89), Landon Donovan
The two-goal performance was another Wizards-killing display by Donovan. He scored four goals in the two meetings between the two teams in Kansas City last season, then scored a conference-winning golden goal to claim a berth in the MLS Cup Final in last year's Western Conference final.
"I don't know what it is. They have one of the best defenses and goalkeepers in this league," Donovan said. "Some days, you feel better than others. I felt good running with the ball from the start today. I told myself today I wanted to take some more chances, do better when I was running at them with the ball."
Ching was then the hero of the USA's 1-1 draw with Jamaica to open the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. Coming on in the 61st minute for Brian McBride to partner Landon Donovan in attack (who played the entire match), Ching narrowly missed a leveling header before giving the USA a vital away point, slamming home from close range after Donovan laid off a quick pass in a crowded penalty area.
Pat Onstad and Dwayne DeRosario both started and played the full match for Canada, but they crashed in their semifinal round opener, Carlos Ruiz scoring twice to lead Guatemala to a 2-0 victory in Vancouver.
The Dallas Burn kept their up-and-down form in step, answering a loss with a dramatic victory, a stunning goal in stoppage time giving them a 1-0 victory against the East-leading MetroStars on Sunday night at the Meadowlands. The Burn kept pace with the rest of the Western Conference with the victory, remaining tied with the Colorado Rapids for third place with 29 points from 21 matches, seven behind West leaders Los Angeles Galaxy.
The Eastern Conference leaders lost their chance to take over the lead in the MLS overall table when Toni Nhleko gave the Burn a surprise late victory in second-half added time against the MetroStars, ending the home side's winning streak and five-game unbeaten run.
A taut midfield battle barely opened up over the final half-hour, but just when it seemed as if the teams would share the points, Oscar Pareja burst through with a failed clearance and clipped a perfect cross to an unmarked Nhleko just inside the spot, and he powerfully headed home.
"Now we've got to get consistency," Burn head coach Colin Clarke said. "That's what it's going to be about, that's what we talked about. We have nine games left, and we have to put a run together and go into the playoffs, not limp in, but feeling good about ourselves."
Clarke made five changes to the team that lost 3-0 at home to the New England Revolution the previous Wednesday. Carey Talley, Brad Davis and Simo Valakari returned from suspension, coming in for Milton Reyes, Eric Quill and Jordan Stone respectively. Cory Gibbs was out through injury, replaced by Matt Behncke in central defense. Bobby Rhine also came back into the team, replacing Oscar Pareja, as Clarke reconfigured his tactical scheme.
Here's Clarke's team (4-1-4-1): Jeff Cassar - Carey Talley, Matt Behncke, Steve Jolley, Chris Gbandi - Simo Valakari - Bobby Rhine (Toni Nhleko 81), Ronnie O'Brien, Jason Kreis (Oscar Pareja 75), Brad Davis (Eric Quill 66) - Eddie Johnson
"I couldn't fault anyone tonight," Clarke said. "I thought everyone was superb, from the 11 who started to the subs who came on and did their thing. We weren't happy with our performance at home against New England during the week, and we came out and put in a great effort and got the result we needed."
Cory Gibbs was an unused substitute in the USA's 1-1 draw with Jamaica to open the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.