SAN JOSE Despite a series of injuries and suspensions, the Earthquakes finally found the winning formula last Saturday, beating the visiting Chicago Fire 2-0 to snap a franchise-record 13 game winless streak. While the team presses on, beset by absences and its playoff hopes dangling by a thread, the win provided a modicum of hope and an indication of what fans might see as the Earthquakes attempt to claw their way into a playoff berth. With Justin Morrow and Bobby Convey missing Saturdays win through injury and suspension, respectively, Sam Cronin and Simon Dawkins came in to cover, while Khari Stephenson continued to play in a forward role. Even with players returning to fitness, though, the replacements play against Chicago could be one indication that they are likely to continue seeing playing time. Dawkins was active on the left wing, passing accurately (40 out of 46 passes completed, or 87 accuracy) and demonstrating his ability to both beat a man and play an intelligent pass. Stephenson, playing forward alongside Chris Wondolowksi, was active outside the penalty area, and contributed on the buildup to Ramiro Corrales goal against Chicago. Both players were playing out of their natural positions, as they are both nominally central midfielders. Head coach frank Yallop praised the versatility of his players, highlighting that quality as one that has helped lift the team in recent weeks. I think any good player can play in any position. I wouldnt put them in a position if I didnt feel as a coach they could handle both spots, Yallop said. So I decided to put them both in those spots and its worked out great, I think both of them have played very well. Also benefiting from the shift in play is Wondolowski himself, who has now gathered two goals and an assist in his last two games to catapult himself right back into the race for the MLS Golden Boot. Wondolowski was the recipient of a cross from Rafael Baca, also recent addition to the lineup, for his first goal and indicated he was happy with the service he has been given. I think its been alright, I think the thing is we have a really deep team, Wondolowski said. I thought Kharis been playing really well up there. I think whoever steps in, Rafa Baca or Sam Cronin have been playing well up there, so its nice and its a good luxury to have and I think we need to keep building on that. Wondolowski also highlighted the role of understanding and communication among the forward line. He further highlighted that part of the teams deeper understanding simply came from playing together the length of the season. Its just one of those things, kind of all coming together, he explained. Its been seven months since weve been since preseason, so we know each other really well now and know the ins and outs, and we practice hard and work together on that front, so we feel that we can understand each other and go from there. Looking ahead to Saturdays trip to Houston, Bobby Convey, a natural left winger, will be available after serving a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation. However, with Dawkins playing a positive role on the win over Chicago and syncing well with the rest of the team, Yallop could be set to start the Englishman once more. I think he Dawkins has the ability to dribble guys and get shots off and crosses off, so thats a different look, said Yallop, comparing Dawkins traits to Conveys. Bobbys a good possession player, whips early crosses, does come infield a little bit. Theyre both good players, Simon at the moment is doing well. There will, however, be one forced change to the lineup as Nana Attakora will replace Jason Hernandez (quadriceps strain) in the center of defense. However, Yallop indicated he has full faith in the 22-year-old Ontario-born center back. He looks better in training, he looks more assured, so hopefully he can now put that into practice and play a good game, Yallop said of his countryman. While Houston will certainly test the Earthquakes, the teams ability to adapt to continuous absences and to remain in sync in spite of those absences will be the key to any remaining playoff hopes.For more Earthquakes, MLS and world soccer musings, you can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter: @nicholasrosano
The San Jose Earthquakes announced today that the club has exercised 2017 contract options on six players: goalkeeper David Bingham, defenders Victor Bernardez, Kip Colvey and Andres Imperiale, and midfielders Fatai Alashe and Matheus Silva.
The Earthquakes will not exercise options on nine players, including goalkeeper Bryan Meredith, defender Clarence Goodson, midfielders Marc Pelosi and Tommy Thompson, and forwards Chad Barrett, Henok Goitom, Innocent, Steven Lenhart and Mark Sherrod.
In addition, the following players are under contract for the 2017 season: goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell, defender Shaun Francis, midfielders Cordell Cato, Darwin Ceren, Simon Dawkins, Anibal Godoy and Shea Salinas, and forwards Quincy Amarikwa and Chris Wondolowski.
Stage One of the Re-Entry Draft will take place on Friday, Dec. 16 at 12 p.m. PT and Stage Two of the Re-Entry Draft will take place on Thursday, Dec. 22 at 12 p.m. PT. The two drafts will take place via teleconference with all 22 clubs represented. MLS will release the results following each of the calls. Both of the Re-Entry Drafts will be conducted in the same order as the traditional Waiver Draft.
San Jose Earthquakes media services
LA UNION, Colombia -- A chartered plane carrying a Brazilian soccer team to the biggest match of its history crashed into a Colombian hillside and broke into pieces, killing 75 people and leaving six survivors, Colombian officials said Tuesday.
The British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane, operated by a charter airline with roots in Venezuela, declared an emergency and lost radar contact just before 10 p.m. Monday (0300 GMT Tuesday) because of an electrical failure, aviation authorities said.
The aircraft, which had departed from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was carrying the up and coming Chapecoense soccer team from southern Brazil for Wednesday's first leg of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional of Medellin - the continent's second-most-important championship.
"What was supposed to be a celebration has turned into a tragedy," Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez said from the search and rescue command center.
The club said in a brief statement on its Facebook page, "May God accompany our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests traveling with our delegation."
Expressions of grief poured in from all over the soccer world. South America's federation canceled all scheduled matches in a show of solidarity, Real Madrid's squad interrupted its training for a minute of silence and Argentina legend Diego Maradona sent his condolences to the victims' families over Facebook.
Rescuers working through the night were initially heartened after pulling three passengers alive from the wreckage. But as the hours passed, heavy rainfall and low visibility grounded helicopters and slowed efforts to reach the crash site.
At daybreak, dozens of bodies were quickly collected into white bags while rescuers scavenged through pieces of the plane's fuselage strewn across the muddy mountainside.
Images broadcast on local television showed three passengers arriving to a local hospital in ambulances on stretchers and covered in blankets connected to an IV. Among the survivors was Chapecoense defender Alan Ruschel, who doctors said suffered spinal injuries.
Two goalkeepers, Danilo and Jackson Follmann, as well as a journalist traveling with the team and a Bolivian flight attendant, were found alive in the wreckage. But Danilo was later reported as dead, and authorities said another defender, Helio Zampier, had survived amid a confusion of sometimes conflicting early reports.
The aircraft is owned by LaMia, a company with roots in Venezuela and that has a close relationship with several premier South American squads.
Argentina's state-run news agency said the plane involved in the crash had transported Barcelona striker Lionel Messi and the national team this month from Brazil to Colombia between World Cup qualifier matches. The airliner also reportedly transported Venezuela's national squad and several top teams from Bolivia in the past.
LaMia's website, which is no longer online, said it operated three 146 Avro short-haul jets made by British Aerospace and with a maximum range of around 2,965 kilometers (1,600 nautical miles) - about the same as the distance between Santa Cruz and Medellin, the route it was flying when it went down.
Alfredo Bocanegra, the head of Colombia's aviation authority, said initial reports suggest the aircraft was suffering electrical problems although investigators were also looking into an account from one of the survivors that the plane had run out of fuel about five minutes from its expected landing at Jose Maria Cordova airport outside Medellin.
Bolivia's civil aviation agency said the aircraft picked up the Brazilian team in Santa Cruz, where players had arrived earlier in the day on a commercial flight from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Spokesman Cesar Torrico said that the plane underwent an inspection before departing for Colombia and reported no problems.
British Aerospace, which is now known as BAE Systems, says that the first 146-model plane took off in 1981 and that just under 400 were built in total in the U.K. through 2003. It says around 220 of are still in service in a variety of roles, including aerial firefighting and overnight freight services.
A video published on the team's Facebook page showed the team readying for a flight earlier Monday in Sao Paulo's Guarulhos international airport. Photos of team members in the cockpit and posing in front of the plane ahead of departure quickly spread across social media.
The team, from the small city of Chapeco, was in the middle of a fairy tale season. It joined Brazil's first division in 2014 for the first time since the 1970s and made it last week to the Copa Sudamericana finals - the equivalent of the UEFA Europa League tournament - after defeating two of Argentina's fiercest squads, San Lorenzo and Independiente, as well as Colombia's Junior.
"This morning I said goodbye to them and they told me they were going after the dream, turning that dream into reality," Chapecoense board member told TV Globo. "The dream was over early this morning."
The team is so modest that tournament organizers ruled that its 22,000-seat arena was too small to host the final match, which was moved to a stadium 300 miles (480 kilometers) to the north in the city of Curitiba.
"This is unbelievable, I am walking on the grass of the stadium and I feel like I am floating," Andrei Copetti told the AP. "No one understands how a story that was so amazing could suffer such a devastating reversal. For many people here reality has still not struck."