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SAN JOSE, Calif.
7 pm PT (FSW/E; HDNet; CSN)
The defending MLS Cup champions are hoping their first match after the All-Star break propels them into a late charge back into the playoff picture, as they are currently two points out but with a third of the season to be played. They'll have to get it started without Landon Donovan though, suspended late in the week. D.C. United knows what it's like to play with absences, missing nearly their entire first-choice team in a 5-1 loss to Dallas before the break, but coach Peter Nowak has nearly all of his troops back as they start the second portion of the campaign.
REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar. SAR (bench): Greg Barkey; JAR (opposite): Steven Davidson; 4th: Baldomero Toledo
MLS Career: 26 games; FC/gm: 32.4; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 7; pens: 10
Games involving Earthquakes: P4 W2 L2 T0; FC/gm: 30.5; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 0; pens: 1
Games involving United: P4 W1 L2 T1; FC/gm: 33.5; Y/gm: 5.8; R: 2; pens: 2
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: DF Chris Roner (R ankle surgery); DF Eddie Robinson (L hamstring rupture); FW Jamil Walker (lower back sprain)
D.C. UNITED - OUT: FW Thiago Martins (L knee surgery); FW Eliseo Quintanilla (R fractured fibula); FW Santino Quaranta (adductor surgery); DF Ryan Nelsen (abdominal surgery); GK Nick Rimando (R knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE: DF Mike Petke (L quadriceps strain).
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: SJ: Troy Dayak (through August 7); Landon Donovan (through August 7)
YELLOW PERIL: SJ: Brian Mullan (16 CP); Landon Donovan (17 CP)
DC: Josh Gros (18 CP); Bryan Namoff (16 CP); Mike Petke (19 CP)
ALL-TIME (21 meetings): Earthquakes 10 wins (3 shootout), 32 goals; United 8 wins (0 shootout), 37 goals ... 3 draws
IN SAN JOSE (10 meetings): Earthquakes 5 wins (1 shootout), 16 goals; United 2 wins (0 shootout), 14 goals ... 3 draws
This is the third and final meeting between the two clubs this year, the second in a row at Spartan Stadium. United won the first before the second ended in a draw.
The teams played to a 1-1 draw in San Jose on May 1 as 14-year-old Freddy Adu made his first professional start in attack but the goals came from players not usually known for their marksmanship.
Center back Troy Dayak gave the Earthquakes a 33rd-minute lead when he headed home a free kick whipped in from the right flank, but midfielder Dema Kovalenko pulled the visitors level in the 66th minute when he was left all alone at the back post to finish off a pinpoint cross from Bobby Convey.
Here's Dominic Kinnear's team (4-4-2): Pat Onstad - Craig Waibel, Jeff Agoos, Troy Dayak, Ramiro Corrales - Brian Mullan, Ronnie Ekelund (Dwayne De Rosario 74), Richard Mulrooney, Chris Brown (Ian Russell 61) - Landon Donovan, Brian Ching (Jamil Walker 78).
Here's Peter Nowak's team (3-1-4-2): Nick Rimando - Bryan Namoff, Ryan Nelsen, Brandon Prideaux - Brian Carroll - Earnie Stewart, Dema Kovalenko, Ben Olsen, Bobby Convey (Joshua Gros 86) - Jaime Moreno, Freddy Adu (Alecko Eskandarian 78).
An inspired performance from veteran Jaime Moreno gave D.C. United a 2-1 victory at RFK Stadium in the season opener. Moreno gave United an 12th-minute lead with a glancing header, but Ronnie Ekelund pulled the Earthquakes level seven minutes later from the penalty spot after Brian Mullan was taken down by United 'keeper Nick Rimando in the area. But then a pinpoint through ball from Moreno was masterfully turned home by Alecko Eskandarian in the 39th minute to give United the lead heading into the halftime interval.
Last year, San Jose won the first two meetings between the clubs, with United claiming the third and final encounter.
The teams split their meetings on East Capitol Street, the Quakes winning 2-1 on July 19 (Curtis 13 - Roner 38, Lagos 54), then United winning 2-1 (Stewart 9, Olsen 81 - Walker 80) on Sept. 13. San Jose won 1-0 at home on Aug. 24 (Corrales 80).
United haven't won in San Jose in six years, their last victory at Spartan Stadium coming in a 4-0 victory on June 3, 1998. The 'Quakes have gone unbeaten in the last five meetings in the Bay Area, winning by shootout in 1999, the teams playing to a 2-2 tie in both 2000 and 2002.
Ronald Cerritos is the Earthquakes' all-time scoring leader against D.C., with 5 goals, 3 assists. Ronnie Ekelund leads current Quakes with 3 goals; only Chris Brown and Landon Donovan have 2 goals against United (both of Brown's while with Kansas City).
Jaime Moreno is United's all-time leader against the 'Quakes with 7 goals, 5 assists. Dema Kovalenko has 3 goals v San Jose (1 while with United), while Ben Olsen and Eliseo Quintanilla each have 2 goals (Olsen has 1 assist).
Coaches record: Dominic Kinnear v DC: P2 W0 L1 T1; Peter Nowak vs. SJ: P2 W1 L0 T1
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The San Jose Earthquakes come into the final portion of the season in last place in the Western Conference with 21 points from 17 matches, 12 points behind the first-place Los Angeles Galaxy and two points out of the final playoff place - but having played fewer games than any other West club. In their last match before the All-Star break, the Quakes came back to grab a dramatic 2-2 draw at home with the New England Revolution, then on Wednesday after the break advanced to semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup for the first time in club history.
Pat Noonan opened the scoring in the 25th minute, neatly heading home a Richie Baker from eight yards out, then just after the break, Jose Cancela seemed to settle matters when he latched onto a poor clearance and sent a left-footed shot past Pat Onstad from the top of the box.
The home side then seemed doomed when Troy Dayak was sent off in the 62nd minute for an apparent elbow to the face of Shalrie Joseph. But the defender's dramatic exit from the field - stripping off his shirt and waving it over his head - fired up the Quakes faithful.
Landon Donovan then pulled a goal back just after the 90 minutes ticked over, running onto a Brian Ching and slamming home from just inside the box, and then in the fourth minute of added time, a Dwayne De Rosario cross met Ching just inches from the goal line and he slid in to poke home his 10th goal of the season.
Earthquakes coach Dominic Kinnear made one change to the team that defeated the Colorado Rapids 3-1 at home the previous weekend. Troy Dayak made his return from a back and neck injury to slot into central defense as Ryan Cochrane was still hampered by a hip injury.
Here's Kinnear's team (4-4-2): Pat Onstad - Craig Waibel, Troy Dayak, Jeff Agoos, Todd Dunivant - Brian Mullan, Ronnie Ekelund, Richard Mulrooney, Ramiro Corrales (Dwayne De Rosario 65) - Brian Ching, Landon Donovan
On Thursday, Donovan was suspended for the United match and fined $1000 for post-match dissent following the Quakes 2-2 draw with the Revolution. Defender Troy Dayak was also fined $500 for not leaving the field in a timely fashion following his sending off.
D.C. United comes into the final third of the campaign with 21 points from 18 matches, good for third place in the Eastern Conference. They trail the East-leading MetroStars by eight points, but are firmly in the center of a four-team block separated by just six points. In their last match before the All-Star break, a severely depleted United fell to the Dallas Burn 5-1 at the Cotton Bowl.
Brad Davis and Eddie Johnson each grabbed a double as the Burn overwhelmed a United team missing nearly the majority of their first-choice lineup, most through injury then exacerbated by the midweek transfer of U.S. international Bobby Convey to Reading FC in England.
Steve Jolley put the home side after just 10 minutes when he headed home a Brad Davis free kick whipped in from the right, then Johnson doubled the lead when he flicked home first-time a Carey Talley cross from the right flank (31).
United pulled a goal back three minutes when Freddy Adu saw his driven cross from the left deflected into his own net by Burn defender Cory Gibbs, but Davis restored the margin before the break when his angled shot on the run from the left took a deflection and looped over helpless United 'keeper Troy Perkins.
Davis then completed his double in the 63rd minute, racing onto a slide-rule diagonal pass from Oscar Pareja to slot home, before Johnson finished off a pass from Bobby Rhine from the heart of the United area to cap the scoring 10 minutes later.
United coach Peter Nowak made four changes to the team that drew 1-1 with the Los Angeles Galaxy the previous weekend. Ryan Nelsen was out through injury along with Brandon Prideaux, while Dema Kovalenko and Alecko Eskandarian were suspended.
That meant a third start of the league season for David Stokes, while Nana Kuffour made his MLS debut on the right flank. Freddy Adu returned to the starting lineup and played 90 minutes for the first time, while Kevin Ara also made his first MLS start.
Here's Nowak's team (4-4-1-1): Troy Perkins - David Stokes, Ezra Hendrickson, Mike Petke (Jason Thompson 30), Bryan Namoff - Nana Kuffour (Garlon Cannon 55), Kevin Ara, Brian Carroll, Joshua Gros - Freddy Adu - Jaime Moreno
An injury to Mike Petke shortly after the half hour meant a United debut for Jason Thompson - acquired from the Burn just the day before. Then GR Cannon made his MLS debut in the second half when he came on for Kuffour, Cannon an emergency call-up from the PSL (third division) Northern Virginia Royals.
After the unreal injury crisis in Dallas, Nowak will have something close to a full team to call upon for the trip to San Jose. Captain Ryan Nelsen will out for the next month after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia, but of the remainder of the injury ward, only midfielder Ben Olsen seems to be really in doubt.
"I'm a little bit limited right now," Olsen said of his quadriceps injury, "but hopefully by game time I'll be OK to play. ... There's always that fear (of aggravating it), and it's a legitimate fear with my body. I tend to fight through these things and I've got to learn when to say 'when.' I always want to play and I end up being out longer than I should, but I'm learning."
Two other United players underwent surgery before the break, goalkeeper Nick Rimando and striker Santino Quaranta. With Rimando unavailable, United will have Andrew Terris in the team as the backup 'keeper.