The San Jose Earthquakes continued to pile on to the MetroStars' difficult home form while reversing defensive woes of their own, a second-half goal by Ronald Cerritos was all the Quakes needed to snatch a 1-0 victory at Giants Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Cerritos header on the hour mark, off another pinpoint cross from Brad Davis on the left flank, kept the MetroStars winless on the season in front of their home fans while the Earthquakes recorded a clean sheet for the first time this year.
Assistant coach John Doyle helped guide the Quakes to victory over the Metros, filling in for head coach Dominic Kinnear, who was excused from the team to tend to an illness in the family.
The hosts, without inspirational French midfielder Youri Djorkaeff, pressed from the start with a forward-thinking 4-4-2 scheme, with Mark Lisi and Michael Bradley holding in the middle and Eddie Gaven, Mike Magee, Sergio Galvan Rey and Amado Guevara spread across the park.
The Earthquakes handled this effectively. The back four of Wade Barrett, Eddie Robinson, Troy Dayak and Craig Waibel played a patient game sitting deep and stifled the passing lanes and through runs of the Metrostars, looking for breaks up front with the muscular Dwayne De Rosario in the playmaking role behind Brian Ching and Ronald Cerritos.
The first half was largely a tactical stalemate, though the MetroStars were desperately unlucky not to have taken a lead with a couple of terrific chances that found the woodwork.
The hosts almost opened the scoring in the 14th minute as last week's hat trick hero, Honduras international Guevara raced up the center of the park before letting fly from all of 25 yards straight out from goal. His laser beam clearly beat Quakes goalkeeper Pat Onstad to his right, only to hit the post square on the face and come straight back out. On the half hour, the woodwork came to San Jose's aid once more as a near post flick by Galvan Rey from a corner kick looped over Onstad towards an empty net, only to be stopped by the crossbar.
The Quakes responded by trying to push the game into the MetroStars end and the approach soon nearly paid dividends as the Metros central defense pair of Jeff Parke and Carlos Mendes was made to look vulnerable by some nice passing by De Rosario and former Metrostars winger Davis. Ching muscled out Mendes to latch onto a pass and found some space in front of goal, only for goalkeeper Zach Wells to just deflect it away from goal.
As the game was crying out for a goal, it was the visitors who responded at the hour mark. A nice run from DeRosario on the left flank followed by a lovely backheel between a pair of defenders opened a hole for Davis, who got to the backline and crossed to the far post for the waiting Cerritos, who had an easy unmarked header from the top of the six-yard box.
Having gotten the goal, the Earthquakes looked more comfortable, playing the ball around the midfield and probing for openings where they could break the defense.
In the 72nd minute Davis came close to extending the lead. After a sustained period of pressure from the Earthquakes, he got the ball at the top of the area and let loose a shot that was heading for the roof of the net, but Wells was able to get a finger on it and touch it over the bar.
The MetroStars had a couple of late chances, but failed to greatly trouble Onstad. Galvan Rey seemed to have space to turn and shoot or find the unmarked Abbe Ibrahim in the 76th minute, but Waibel was fastest off the mark and tackled cleanly to break up the play.
Substitute Ibrahim had another shot saved by Onstad, then the dying gasp came when a corner kick fell in a crowd of players in the area, but no one could get it on goal through a mass of Earthquakes defenders in the goal area.
The MetroStars hit the road next weekend, traveling to Soldier Field to face the Chicago Fire on Saturday night (8:30 p.m. ET), while the Earthquakes return home after two consecutive road matches, facing FC Dallas at Spartan Stadium (10 p.m. ET).
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Dwayne De Rosario (San Jose Earthquakes)
Laurence Moroney is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
San Jose Earthquakes (2-1-3) vs. MetroStars (1-2-2)
May 07, 2005 -- Giants Stadium
SJ -- Ronald Cerritos 3 (Brad Davis 6, Dwayne De Rosario 2) 60
San Jose Earthquakes -- Pat Onstad, Craig Waibel, Troy Dayak, Eddie Robinson, Wade Barrett, Brian Mullan (Ian Russell 84), Danny O'Rourke, Brad Davis, Brian Ching, Dwayne De Rosario, Ronald Cerritos (Alejandro Moreno 80).
Substitutes Not Used: Ricardo Clark, Ryan Cochrane, Jon Conway.
TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Dwayne De Rosario 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Dwayne De Rosario 2); FOULS: 20 (Danny O'Rourke 5); OFFSIDES: 1 (Ronald Cerritos 1); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Ronald Cerritos 2, Brad Davis 2); SAVES: 6 (Pat Onstad 5)
MetroStars -- Zach Wells, Chris Leitch, Tim Ward, Carlos Mendes, Tim Regan, Michael Bradley, Mark Lisi, Amado Guevara, Eddie Gaven, Mike Magee (Abbe Ibrahim 61), Sergio Galvan Rey.
Substitutes Not Used: Jeff Agoos, Ramon Bailey, Chris Corcoran, Gilberto Flores, Jason Hernandez, Jeff Parke, Seth Stammler, Jonny Walker.
TOTAL SHOTS: 16 (3 tied with 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (6 tied with 1); FOULS: 14 (Eddie Gaven 4); OFFSIDES: 2 (Sergio Galvan Rey 1, Mike Magee 1); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Amado Guevara 3); SAVES: 4 (Zach Wells 4)
MET -- Tim Ward (caution; Pushing, Holding) 49
SJ -- Danny O'Rourke (caution; Pushing, Holding) 76
SJ -- Eddie Robinson (caution; Reckless Foul) 82
SJ -- Ian Russell (caution; Pushing, Holding) 91+
Referee: Kevin Terry
Referee's Assistants: -Greg Barkey; C.J. Morgante
4th Official: Andrew Chapin
Time of Game: 1:49
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.