Pat Onstad

Connolly: San Jose still special

Arturo (Alvarez) and Brian (Ching) -- both added to the mix, obviously."

Indeed. After DeRosario scored on a spectacular bicycle kick -- the Goal of the Year front-runner thus far -- from about 12 yards out in the 53rd minute, Alvarez and Ching added the game-winning and insurance goals off of feeds from Donovan.

While the explosiveness that San Jose showed was impressive, opponents can't be happy after watching the exploits of both Donovan and Onstad.

Though Donovan has yet to score a goal through three games, and had admitted that his fitness wasn't where he wanted it to be just two weeks ago, his activity away from the ball against New England was noticeable, whether he was trying to free himself up on runs or as the first line of defense when his team lost possession.

His passing was precise, as well, highlighted by the perfect cross he sent to Alvarez to set up his left--footed volley for the team's third goal. It came from the right side after Donovan patiently looked off DeRosario on his streaking run down the middle of the penalty box that drew the New England defense before finding Alvarez in stride on the left side of box. It was the type of pass that showed off the Donovan's range as both a playmaker and a scorer.

"I want to score -- believe me -- it's frustrating not to," he said. "But I play the only game I know how to play, and that involves passing."

Words that U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena will take pleasure in, no doubt.

Despite Donovan's deft passing and DeRo's SportsCenter-worthy goal, the most important player on the field, once again, was Onstad. Taking nothing away from Fabian Taylor and his two strikes for the MetroStars in his first match, the Player of the Week should have stayed in the Canadian's goalkeeper's possession for yet another week after the performance he turned in against New England.

Time and time again, Onstad stymied the high-scoring Revs from both long-range and point-blank distance. There was a sprawling dive to his right to rob Pat Noonan of a goal in the first half; a tip over the bar on a Jay Heaps header; and a pair of huge stops in succession on a header and follow-up by Twellman inside the six-yard box that would have tied the game. It left the usually emotion-less Steve Nicol shaking his head on the Revs sideline.

"I just reacted on the first one," said Onstad, "And I got lucky to get my paws on the second one."

Lucky or not, it's the type of play that won him Goalkeeper of the Year honors last season despite the fact that most MLS observers couldn't pick him out of a crowd.

"He flies under the radar screen, doesn't he?" said Kinnear, after his first victory as a head coach since taking over for Frank Yallop this year. "Maybe it's because he's not American. Maybe it's because he's pretty normal, too. Whatever it is, he's quietly bailed us out since he's been here."

Just another reason to believe that the Quakes are on to something special once again in 2004.

Four quick ones
Questions for Dallas Burn midfielder Eric Quill
Smartest player on your team: Matt Behncke.
Most underrated player on your team: Bobby Rhine.
Most underrated player not on your team: Dwayne DeRosario, San Jose Earthquakes.
Movie you've watched multiple, multiple times: Rounders.

Marc Connolly writes for and several other publications. This column runs each Wednesday on Views and opinions expressed in this column views and opinions are the author's, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

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