Confident Quakes return to MLS action

Coming back from the July 31All-Star break, the San Jose Earthquakes are set to return to MLS play when they face D.C. United on Saturday, August 7 at 7:00 p.m. at Spartan Stadium.

The Quakes, who had five representatives in the starting line-up of the All-Star game, recuperated during the much-needed break and are now focused on seeking success in the second half of the season.

"It was a good break for us," said Earthquakes defender Todd Dunivant on the All-Star week. "It was a good chance for us to assess things and look to have a strong second half."

The Earthquakes called together a players-only meeting earlier this week to discuss their game plan for the rest of the season. The team feels ready to play top-class soccer for the rest of the year.

"I feel very confident about our situation," said midfielder Ronnie Ekelund. "I do think we're going to turn it around in the second half of the season. I believe in this team and I'm sure we'll pull it around."

Though the Earthquakes have only won two MLS regular season games since the beginning of June, they have recently been successful in the U.S. Open Cup. The Quakes have won both of their matches in the tournament to advance to the semifinals, including a penalty kick win over the Minnesota Timbers on Wednesday, August 4. After the win on Wednesday and a good practice Friday, the Quakes are hoping to carry the positive momentum from the victory over the Thunder into Saturday's game.

"Anytime you win, the team is a little more upbeat for the following week and it makes practices a lot easier and more fun," said forward Brian Ching. "I definitely hope we can carry that attitude and momentum into the game against D.C. on Saturday."

The Quakes and D.C. United, who both have 21 points so far this season, will face off at Spartan Stadium this weekend as the Quakes fight to move out of last place in the Western Conference. San Jose may have the upper hand in the match, as D.C. United has not beaten the Quakes at home since June 3, 1998. However, the Quakes will not rely on history in order to get the win over D.C. on Saturday.

"Being in last place is our motivation factor for winning this weekend," said Ching.

Though they have made a great comeback from their extensive injuries throughout the first half of the season, the Earthquakes will still be without key players on Saturday. Rookie defender Ryan Cochrane and forward Dwayne De Rosario will take the place of Troy Dayak and Landon Donovan in Saturday's starting line-up. Dayak and Donovan will both miss the D.C. United game due to suspensions they received during the July 24 match against New England.

"Obviously Landon is a big asset, but I don't think we should change our way of playing when he's not out there," said Ekelund. "Landon's speed is the biggest thing we're going to miss, but Dwayne and Ching are also quick, and they're going to be battling away tomorrow. They're both good soccer players so I still believe we can get a victory over D.C."

The Earthquakes are ready to prove to the crowd at Spartan Stadium that they will pick up the pace in the second half of the season, starting on Saturday night. The game will be broadcast on television on HDNet and Fox Sports World, as well as live on the radio on 1370 AM KZSF (Spanish) and 1590 AM KLIV (English).

"We've got a lot to prove still," admitted Dunivant about the Quakes. "No more excuses, no more looking to last year, no more thinking about how we should be doing well. It's time to just step up and do it."

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