at least temporarily -- draw level with Dallas in fourth place in the West.
Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear had nearly his entire first-choice lineup available, and it showed as the home side came out with a dominant effort. Rapids boss Tim Hankinson was forced into a major lineup change when U.S. international center back Pablo Mastroeni suffered a thigh strain Friday in training.
San Jose controlled the majority of the possession from the start of the match and took the lead after 22 minutes, finishing off a beautifully worked play that started all the way in the back with goalkeeper Pat Onstad. He distributed to Brian Mullan on the right flank, who charged up the line and found Donovan, who laid back a neat one-touch pass to Ronnie Ekelund. The veteran midfielder then put a perfectly-weighted through ball for Ching just inside the top of the box, and made no mistake with the finish, ripping a shot past Colorado 'keeper Joe Cannon and inside his left post.
Colorado nearly knotted the score against the run of play six minutes before the break. Midfielder Mark Chung sent a long pass over the top of the Quakes defense that striker John Spencer did well to latch on to, and he chipped an onrushing Onstad only to see the ball bounced off the post.
After the intermission San Jose immediately went to work to extend their lead, and it took just five minutes for Ching to grab his and the Earthquakes' second of the match. The goal came after a long sequence that began when Donovan had a clear breakaway, only for his attempt to be smothered by Cannon. Donovan's rebound attempt hit the base of the left post, but Corrales eventually drove a cross into the goalmouth through a host of Rapids defenders for Ching to rifle into the unprotected net.
Donovan finally got himself on the score sheet just five minutes later. Richard Mulrooney's toepoke found Mullan on the right flank, and he picked out Donovan with a perfect cross to the near post, the U.S. international hitting an unstoppable rocket first-time past a helpless Cannon to make the score 3-0.
Colorado got a consolation goal in the 83rd minute on a blistering shot from midfielder Seth Trembly. He split a pair of defenders before letting fly with a cracker from outside of the box with his left foot that sailed just inside Pat Onstad's right-hand post, but the issue was never really in doubt.
San Jose will again be in the friendly confines of Spartan Stadium next Saturday when they play host to the New England Revolution for a 10 p.m. ET encounter, the second of three consecutive home matches for the Earthquakes. The Rapids will make their second consecutive appearance on ESPN2 when they return to Invesco Field to host the Columbus Crew at 5 p.m. ET next Saturday, but first they will travel to the Dallas Burn in the round-of-16 in the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Brian Ching (San Jose Earthquakes)
Colorado Rapids (5-5-7) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (5-6-5)
July 17, 2004 -- Spartan Stadium
SJ -- Brian Ching 8 (Ronnie Ekelund 1, Landon Donovan 6) 22
SJ -- Brian Ching 9 (Ramiro Corrales 1, Landon Donovan 7) 50
SJ -- Landon Donovan 3 (Brian Mullan 4, Richard Mulrooney 7) 55
COL -- Seth Trembly 1 (unassisted) 83
Colorado Rapids -- Joe Cannon, Antonio de la Torre, Nat Borchers, Ritchie Kotschau, Matt Crawford, Chris Henderson, Kyle Beckerman (Rey Angel Martinez 70), Jordan Cila (Joey DiGiamarino 46), Mark Chung, Jean Philippe Peguero (Seth Trembly 63), John Spencer.
Substitutes Not Used: Scott Vallow.
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (3 tied with 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (5 tied with 1); FOULS: 17 (Antonio de la Torre 4); OFFSIDES: 3 (Jean Philippe Peguero 2); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Matt Crawford 2, Rey Angel Martinez 2); SAVES: 6 (Joe Cannon 6)
San Jose Earthquakes -- Pat Onstad, Craig Waibel, Jeff Agoos, Ryan Cochrane (Wes Hart 69), Todd Dunivant, Brian Mullan, Ronnie Ekelund, Richard Mulrooney, Ramiro Corrales (Dwayne De Rosario 70), Brian Ching, Landon Donovan (Jamil Walker 84).
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Brown, Jon Conway, Steve Cronin, Troy Dayak, Tighe Dombrowski.
TOTAL SHOTS: 16 (Brian Ching 3, Ramiro Corrales 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 9 (Brian Ching 2, Brian Mullan 2); FOULS: 7 (Brian Ching 4); OFFSIDES: 3 (3 tied with 1); CORNER KICKS: 13 (Jeff Agoos 7); SAVES: 4 (Pat Onstad 4)
COL -- Rey Angel Martinez (caution; Dissent) 91+
Referee: Gus St. Silva
Referee's Assistants: -Nathan Clement; David Bragg
4th Official: Yader Reyes
Time of Game: 1:53
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.