The Earthquakes will be attacking a familiar face Saturday when they visit Invesco Field in Denver for a 6 p.m. PT showdown against the Colorado Rapids.
In goal for the Rapids will be flamboyant Joe Cannon, who played at St. Francis High, Santa Clara University and with the San Diego Flash in the A-League before spending four seasons as a starter for the Quakes.
Cannon left the Quakes after the 2002 season to play for Lens in the French First Division. After spending (wasting?) a season there, he signed late last season with Colorado, much to the chagrin of veteran starter Scott Garlick.
After the Rapids signed Cannon, Garlick told The Denver Post, "I don't care whether they bring in Joe Cannon or Joe Bazooka or Jim Tommygun. If they think the problem is with the goalkeepers here and they want to add another one, that's the coach's and the general manager's prerogative."
To which Cannon replied, "I don't care if it's Scott Garlick, Scott Salt or Scott Pepper, I'm very confident in my abilities. I can compete for the job anywhere and may the best man win."
Cannon won, becoming the starting goalkeeper just prior to the playoffs. Garlick was traded to Dallas after the season.
Knowing Cannon as I have since his youth-playing days on the Peninsula, he has to be higher than the Mile High City this week in his anticipation of facing his old team, especially knowing that his family and friends will either be viewing the match back home on Fox Sports Net or listening on KLIV (1590) Radio.
The goalkeeper position will certainly be in the spotlight when 2003 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Pat Onstad is opposite Cannon, the 2002 Goalkeeper of the Year. Onstad was instrumental in helping San Jose win the 2003 MLS Cup, as was Cannon while contributing to the Quakes capturing the 2001 MLS title.
As for the difference between the two, Quakes coach Dominic Kinnear and his players agree that Cannon is the more athletic and energized, while Onstad is more experienced, technical and business-like.
"Both are very good goalkeepers," said Quakes veteran defender Jeff Agoos, who patrolled in front of Cannon as a central defender and is doing the same with Onstad when the Quakes are at full strength in the back.
"Joe is an excellent athlete and fierce competitor who has excelled in several sports growing up, and he manages to stop a lot shots with his athleticism. Pat is more laid back and probably a little better technically. The important thing is that a coach wants a goalkeeper who keeps the ball out of the back of the met, and both of these guys do that."
Quakes midfielder Richard Mulrooney sees little difference between the 'keepers.
"Both are great and both have won rings here," Mulrooney said. "Joe is more eccentric. He plays the home crowd, gesturing to the fans to get them into the game. You really don't even know Pat is back there until he makes the big save. Any team in the league would be happy to have either one in goal for them.''
Troy Dayak, who teams with Agoos as a central defender, said Cannon is as competitive as they come and will be "fired up" facing his ex-teammates.
"Joe is very talented," Dayak said. "What we don't want to do is to say something that will fuel him to have a blinder of a game against us. We have a history where ex-Quakes have come back and had big games against us, like Paul Bravo when he played for the Rapids. Joe will definitely be up for this game, and probably even more so when Colorado comes here (July 17 and Aug. 28)."
Asked what the Quakes have to do to score against Cannon, Kinnear quipped, "Put it where he's not."
NUMERO UNO FOR KINNEAR: The Earthquakes' 3-1 win Saturday at New England was the first for Kinnear in his debut season as a head coach.
"To say I wasn't happy would be dishonest,'" said Kinnear, a fixture in Bay Area soccer who grew up playing the game with his assistant, John Doyle, in Fremont, Calif. "It felt great. The guys presented me with a signed ball, which was a nice gesture.
"I was even happier for my players, that they were able to return to their winning ways. Winning breeds confidence."
It took Kinnear three games to garner his first win, after a 2-1 loss at D.C. United and a scoreless tie with Chicago. Frank Yallop, who left San Jose after last season to coach the Canadian national team, won his first game as the Quakes coach in 2001, a 3-2 road triumph over Los Angeles. However, after his first three games, Yallop was 1-2 (2 points). Kinnear is 1-1-1 (3).
OVERHEAD KICK: It wasn't quite a bicycle kick (an overhead delivery with your back directly to the goal), but it was the next best thing when Dwayne De Rosario unleashed a spectacular side-winding, overhead blast with his right foot for the Quakes' opening goal that ignited Saturday's triumph.
"It's funny, because I scored on a bicycle kick the day before in training," said the pleasant De Rosario, smiling. "I had scored goals similar to the one I did at New England, with my youth team when I was 14, 15 years old, and I believe with the (A-League's) Richmond Kickers. This one was the most important because it seemed to really ignite the team. And I would have to say it was the most spectacular goal I've scored in a game."
It was the Canadian national team member's 16th goal, including a pair of postseason finishes, in 71 appearances during his three-plus seasons with the Earthquakes.
GOING HOME: Quakes defender Wes Hart, acquired in February from Colorado, will be feeling right at home when he starts at right back against his former team.
"I'm really looking forward to it," said Hart, who was born in Hollister and lived there "for about a year" before moving to Colorado, where he grew up (he has an aunt, Elly, who lives in San Jose). "I'll have family and friends in the stands pulling for me and the Earthquakes. It's going to be fun."
Hart, who played four seasons for the Rapids, will be returning to Denver on the anniversary week of the tragic shootings five years ago at Columbine High School, the school he attended.
"I was a junior at Washington when that happened," Hart said. "I recall how unbelievable it was watching that whole thing unfold on television."
HOME FIELD DISADVANTAGE: On the first two weekends of the MLS season, the home team has prevailed in only four of 12 games. Visiting sides have won three games and there have been five ties.
PREPARING FOR FREDDY: Tickets are selling well for the Quakes' 1 p.m. match against D.C. United and 14-year-old forward Freddy Adu on Saturday, May 1, at Spartan Stadium. Adu is mostly responsible for D.C. United having drawn 83,022 spectators to their first three games, including sellouts of 24,603 in its home-opener against San Jose at RFK Stadium and 27,000 at The Home Depot Center that witnessed a 1-1 tie against the Galaxy. More than 31,000 were on hand at Giants Stadium last Saturday to see Adu score his first professional goal during a 3-2 loss to the MetroStars. Tickets can be purchased by visiting the Earthquakes Ticket Office at 100 North Almaden Ave. in downtown San Jose; logging onto www.sjearthquakes.com,; calling Ticketmaster at 408-998-TIXS, 415-421-TIXS, 510-625-TIXS, 925-685-TIXS, or visiting any Ticketmaster outlet, including Tower Records, Rite Aid, and Ritmo Latino.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.