DICK'S SPORTING GOODS PARK, Commerce City, Colo.
9 p.m. ET (Altitude; watch LIVE online)
September 24, 2011 (WEEK 28; MLS Game 271)
Looking to put an end to a slide down the table and maintain their grip on an MLS Cup Playoffs spot, the Colorado Rapids play host to the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday evening at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids are still four points clear in the wild card race, despite suffering a fourth consecutive loss in league play last weekend in Toronto. The Earthquakes are six points out of 10th overall and the final spot, after their midweek 1-1 draw in Portland.
REFEREE: Jorge Gonzalez. SAR (bench): Eric Boria; JAR (opposite): Corey Parker; 4th: Terry Vaughn
MLS Career: 67 games; FC/gm: 24.6; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 23; pens: 20
INJURY REPORT: COLORADO RAPIDS - OUT: FW Conor Casey (L achilles tear); DF Anthony Wallace (R knee arthroscopic surgery); QUESTIONABLE: MF Jamie Smith (R hamstring strain / R calf strain); PROBABLE: GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain) ... SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: MF Bobby Convey (neck strain); MF Andre Luiz (L knee injury); DF Ike Opara (L foot injury); FW Alan Gordon (surgery); FW Steven Lenhart (family leave); DOUBTFUL: DF Jason Hernandez (L quadriceps strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Justin Morrow (R hamstring strain); FW Scott Sealy (L groin strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: SJ: Sam Cronin (caution accumulation; through Sept. 25)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: COL: Conor Casey, Brian Mullan, Sanna Nyassi ... SJ: Alan Gordon, Brad Ring
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: COL: Caleb Folan, Ross LaBauex, Jeff Larentowicz, Pablo Mastroeni, Tyrone Marshall, Wells Thompson, Anthony Wallace ... SJ: Bobby Burling, Ramiro Corrales, Jason Hernandez, Chris Leitch, Steven Lenhart
ALL-TIME (47 meetings): Rapids 18 wins (1 shootout), 63 goals ... Earthquakes 21 wins (2 shootout), 68 goals ... Ties 8
AT COLORADO (23 meetings): Rapids 10 wins (0 shootout), 30 goals ... Earthquakes 10 wins (1 shootout), 26 goals ... Ties 3
- In the first meeting this season, goals from Caleb Folan and Jeff Larentowicz completed a comeback after an early Joey Gjertsen goal as the Rapids won 2-1, Aug. 13 at Buck Shaw Stadium.
- It was the first victory in San Jose for the Rapids since Aug. 30, 2003. The Earthquakes had won three of the seven meetings in between in northern California, with four draws.
- The Rapids put an end to a five-game home winless streak vs. San Jose with their 1-0 victory last Aug. 7 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Colorado had last defeated the Quakes on their home ground April 24, 2004.
- Coaches record: Frank Yallop vs. COL: P24 W8 L10 D6 ... Gary Smith v SJ: P5 W2 L1 D2
LAST MEETING (MLS)
8/13: SJ 1, COL 2 (Gjertsen 15 - Folan 39; Larentowicz 72)
- The Earthquakes went ahead with the match a quarter gone. Chris Wondolowski deflected a cross from Bobby Convey on goal, but Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens was able to parry the attempt. The ball bounced into the air, but Joey Gjertsen was on hand to nod it home from close range.
- But the visitors evened the score in the 39th minute. Pablo Mastroeni cut back a cross from the end line, hitting the left arm of a trailing Sam Cronin. Caleb Folan stepped up and drove the ball to his right while goalkeeper Jon Busch went the other way.
- Cronin was later sent off in the 50th minute with a straight red card from referee Paul Ward, and the Rapids finally took advantage 18 minutes from the end. Jeff Larentowicz powered a low free kick through the wall and off Busch's hands for the eventual winner.
- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-4-2): Jon Busch - Steven Beitashour (Jacob Peterson 90), Jason Hernandez, Bobby Burling, Ramiro Corrales - Joey Gjertsen (Ellis McLoughlin 83), Brad Ring (Simon Dawkins 70), Sam Cronin (sent off 50), Bobby Convey - Khari Stephenson, Chris Wondolowski.
- COLORADO RAPIDS (4-2-3-1): Matt Pickens - Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor - Pablo Mastroeni (Joseph Nane 92+), Jeff Larentowicz - Brian Mullan, Ross LaBauex (Omar Cummings 60), Wells Thompson - Caleb Folan (Macoumba Kandji 83).
The Colorado Rapids saw their losing streak stretched to four games, falling 2-1 to Toronto FC on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field. The Rapids have 41 points from 30 games, sitting in fifth place in the Western Conference.
- Danny Koevermans put TFC two goals up with a brace inside of eight minute. First, in the 52nd minute, Ashtone Morgan's low cross found Koevermans streaking at the edge of the six-yard box and he diverted home a right-footed effort.
- Then in the 60th minute, the cross came from the other flank as Nick Soolsma found Koevermans completely unmarked and he sent a header into the lower left corner.
- The Rapids were able to pull a goal back nine minutes later. Receiving a cross from Sanna Nyassi, Omar Cummings saw two chances from inside the area blocked by TFC defenders. But the second rolled to Nyassi at the left post, and he drove the ball into the roof of the goal.
- Rapids head coach Gary Smith made four changes to the team that lost 1-0 to the LA Galaxy at The Home Depot Center. Drew Moor and Miguel Comminges came into the back four for Tyrone Marshall and Danny Earls, and Sanna Nyassi and Omar Cummings started up top in place of Caleb Folan and Macoumba Kandji.
- COLORADO RAPIDS (4-4-2): Matt Pickens - Kosuke Kimura (Macoumba Kandji 84), Drew Moor, Marvell Wynne, Miguel Comminges (Tyrone Marshall 69) - Brian Mullan, Pablo Mastroeni, Jeff Larentowicz, Wells Thompson (Caleb Folan 59) - Sanna Nyassi, Omar Cummings.
- The loss in Toronto concluded a three-game road swing where the Rapids lost all three. They have as many wins at home - five - as they do on the road this season.
- "At the moment, at three games away from home domestically, and lost all three, it's not a good time to have that but what we do look forward to are three home games now all against Western Conference rivals and two of them are very much in-form teams in Dallas and our rival Salt Lake," said Rapids head coach Gary Smith. " ... (O)ur own form has been decent, we've made life difficult for teams and we'll be looking to win a game."
- Sanna Nyassi's goal was the first for the Rapids in 270 minutes, since the second goal in the 2-2 tie with Chivas USA on Aug. 20. The Rapids had been shut out in three consecutive games earlier this year, April 8-22.
- "It's not a lack of creation, it is what is coming out of that at the moment that is the problem," said Smith. "You don't have to be a world-class coach to see that the guys are not playing to their potential."
- Over eight consecutive league games from July 9-Aug. 20, the Rapids scored multiple goals in every contest, netting 19 goals in that time. But they've scored just three goals in their last five games in all competitions.
- "Absolutely we are missing Conor [Casey], someone to hold the ball in the middle," defender Kosuke Kimura said. "It's not clear to me what our game plan is going forward. Omar is by himself all the time, and it is not easy for him to make something happen when he has three defenders around him."
- The San Jose game starts a run of three consecutive games at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, with only the trip to Vancouver for the final match of the season remaining away from home.
- "We'll get back home now and we know we have to come out of our shell, get some points and boost our confidence," Smith said. "Right now, I have to say, though, that this is one of the most difficult periods we have been in since I have been here, not because we are especially poor, but you can start to lose sight of what it takes to win a game when you keep getting beat."
- The Rapids have lost defender Anthony Wallace for the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his right knee, following an injury suffered in the Aug. 5 game against Columbus.
- On Wednesday, the Rapids suffered a 2-1 defeat by Real CD España of Honduras at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in the CONCACAF Champions League, falling to last place in Group B. Carlos Pavon scored both goals for Real España, wrapped around an 18th minute strike by Andre Akpan.
- Here's the Rapids team: Steward Ceus; Tyrone Marshall, Kosuke Kimura, Scott Palguta, Michael Holody, Joseph Nane (Jamie Smith 65), Brian Mullan (Omar Cummings 80), Wells Thompson, Ross LaBauex, Macoumba Kandji (Sanna Nyassi 69), Andre Akpan
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The San Jose Earthquakes gained a point from the second game on their three-game road swing, coming back for a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers on Wednesday evening at Jeld-Wen Field. The Quakes have 30 points from 29 games on the season, sitting in eighth place in the Western Conference.
- The Timbers once again took an early lead, again after nine minutes. Darlington Nagbe won a high ball on the right flank and sent a pass across the face of goal to Kenny Cooper, who chipped it over sprawling Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch.
- But the Earthquakes hit for the leveler with 20 minutes to play. Khari Stephenson collected a centering pass from Rafael Baca in traffic outside the area, spun and fired a low shot just inside Troy Perkins' right post.
- Earthquakes boss Frank Yallop made one change to the team that fell 2-1 to the Houston Dynamo at Robertson Stadium. Justin Morrow came back into the side, with Joey Gjertsen out of the team.
- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-4-2): Jon Busch - Steven Beitashour, Bobby Burling, Nana Attakora, Justin Morrow - Rafael Baca, Sam Cronin (Maxwell Griffin 76), Ramiro Corrales, Simon Dawkins - Khari Stephenson, Chris Wondolowski.
- While the Earthquakes have the poorest record in the league in getting results after scoring the first goal, they've come back for one win and six draws in 15 games when allowing an opener, putting them firmly in the middle of the pack.
- "We showed great character to come back from that, nine minutes into the game against a team that's very dominant at home and come back into it and play some good stuff and get the reward that we deserve," said Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop.
- Paired with Chris Wondolowski from the start for a third consecutive game, Khari Stephenson scored for the second time in as many games. In the last four games, both Wondolowski and Stephenson have two goals and one assist and have been involved in all five San Jose goals over that stretch.
- "Sometimes it takes a while to build the momentum and the players start to really believe in the way we want to play," Yallop said. "There's been a lot of changes and a lot of stuff that's gone on this year that's out of our hands, obviously, but I think that was a true performance that we're capable of and we will play like that in the future."
- While it was a welcome point and kept alive the Earthquakes' playoff hopes for another week, the draw in Portland was an eighth game in a row without a win on the road, since a 4-2 victory at D.C. United on June 11.
- "We played really well tonight, we possessed the ball real well, we created chances, we got shots on goal and that's what we've been working on all year. It's just unfortunate that this is when things are actually going our way and we're doing the things we need to do," said Stephenson.
- After returning home for a game with Sporting Kansas City next week, the Quakes will head back out on the road for trips to New England and Seattle. At home, San Jose is 4-4-7 - just one of four teams with a record of .500 or below on their home ground.
- "We've been playing well for the last 10 games and it's just unfortunate that we haven't won most of them. We are pushing for the playoffs and we are more than capable of winning the next few games," said Stephenson.