just a few minutes after Simo Valakari struck for the go-ahead goal in the 89th minute -- gave the Dallas Burn a thrilling 2-1 victory Wednesday against the San Jose Earthquakes at Spartan Stadium in San Jose.
Eric Quill gave the Burn a very early lead, then played provider late in the match when he set up Valakari's eventual match-winner. But the real hero for the visitors was Cassar, who flung himself to the right to push away Landon Donovan's penalty after Milton Reyes was whistled for a foul on Dwayne De Rosario on a corner deep in added time.
Mere minutes before, Valakari collected a pass from Quill at the top of the Quakes box and -- after playing the ball through referee Hector Tobon's legs -- chipped the ball into the far right corner of goalkeeper Pat Onstad's net as the Canadian international was left frozen on his line.
The Burn snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory, and jumped ahead of the Earthquakes with the three points, leaving the defending MLS Cup champions winless in their last four matches and the cellar-dwellers of the Western Conference.
The Burn got the win despite having only two strikers at their disposal and just one -- Toni Nhleko -- on the field. But Quill, playing on the left side of Colin Clarke's five-man midfield, gave the Burn the lead after just six minutes. Nhleko took advantage of a giveaway and found Quill in the box, before he coolly rounded a defender and curled the ball around Onstad.
The lead lasted just four minutes however, as the home side equalized from a corner kick. Richard Mulrooney sent the ball to the back post where Ramiro Corrales had a clear header from just inside the goal area and made no mistake.
San Jose then should have taken the lead just three minutes later when a long cross from the right skipped all the way through the Burn six-yard box to De Rosario, but his open shot from five yards sailed over the crossbar.
The Burn's best chances came through the midfield, and Brad Davis went close in the 24th minute after Quill laid off a pass on the rush forward. Davis didn't get a lot on the shot though, and it bounced hopelessly just past the right post.
Davis came close twice in the second half on dangerous free kicks. Five minutes in the second half, after Davis was hauled down after running through the heart of the Quakes defense, he curled his own free kick toward the upper left corner only for Onstad to make a fine save, diving to his right to knock the ball out of danger. Late in the match, Davis just bent a similar wide of Onstad's left post.
Cassar made a huge save of his own at the hour mark after Donovan beautiful through ball from the left flank found Brian Ching behind the Burn defense, but just as the Hawaiian-born striker reached the ball, Cassar arrived at his feet to push the ball wide and out of trouble.
As the 90-minute mark approached, the game looked sure to end as a 1-1 draw, until Valakari's lovely chip and Cassar's massive save sent the Earthquakes to defeat for the first time at home this season, the last team in MLS to lose on home turf.
The Earthquakes will have a chance to get back on track against the MetroStars on Saturday in a nationally-televised match from Giants Stadium (4 p.m. ET, ESPN2). Dallas will also be in action Saturday, when they return to the Cotton Bowl to host the Columbus Crew at 8:30 p.m. ET.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Jeff Cassar (Dallas Burn)
Dallas Burn (5-5-4) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (4-5-5)
July 07, 2004 -- Spartan Stadium
DAL -- Eric Quill 1 (Toni Nhleko 2) 6
SJ -- Ramiro Corrales 1 (Richard Mulrooney 6) 10
DAL -- Simo Valakari 1 (Eric Quill 2) 89
Dallas Burn -- Jeff Cassar, Philip Salyer, Cory Gibbs, Steve Jolley, Chris Gbandi, Milton Reyes, Brad Davis (Carey Talley 89), Ronnie O'Brien, Simo Valakari, Eric Quill (Matt Behncke 89), Toni Nhleko.
Substitutes Not Used: Ramon Nunez, Andrew Terris, Jason Thompson.
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Toni Nhleko 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (4 tied with 1); FOULS: 14 (Brad Davis 3, Milton Reyes 3); OFFSIDES: 2 (Toni Nhleko 2); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Ronnie O'Brien 3); SAVES: 2 (Jeff Cassar 2)
San Jose Earthquakes -- Pat Onstad, Wes Hart, Ryan Cochrane (Todd Dunivant 65), Craig Waibel, Landon Donovan, Ronnie Ekelund, Richard Mulrooney, Ramiro Corrales, Brian Ching, Ian Russell (Chris Brown 21) (Arturo Alvarez 72), Dwayne De Rosario.
Substitutes Not Used: Jeff Agoos, Jon Conway, Steve Cronin, Tighe Dombrowski, Jamil Walker.
TOTAL SHOTS: 7 (Brian Ching 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 tied with 1); FOULS: 14 (Brian Ching 3); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 7 (Richard Mulrooney 5); SAVES: 2 (Pat Onstad 2)
DAL -- Simo Valakari (caution; Reckless Foul) 1
SJ -- Ramiro Corrales (caution; Delaying a Restart) 11
SJ -- Brian Ching (caution; Tackle from Behind) 40
Referee: Hector Tobon
Referee's Assistants: Craig Lowry; Chip Reed
4th Official: Ricardo Valenzuela
Time of Game: 1:52
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.