May 25, 2011EARTHQUAKES PAGENick Rosano
SANTA CLARA, Calif. Apromising start turned into an all too familiar story on Tuesday evening atBuck Shaw Stadium as the San Jose Earthquakes fell once more at the finalhurdle in their attempt to qualify for their first U.S. Open Cup since 2005.After taking a 2-0 lead over the Chicago Fire into halftime, the Quakes conceded twogoals in the second half and went on to lose 5-4 in a penalty shootout.Young forward Ellis McLoughlin openedthe scoring for San Jose in the 14th minute,taking advantage of a giveaway in midfield to put a shot past Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson that took adeflection on the way. The Earthquakes doubled their lead just before halftimeafter Johnson spilled a routine shot from McLoughlin, allowing Justin Morrow aneasy finish.BLOG: Earthquakes Musings
However, a second half comeback from Chicago left theEarthquakes asking questions, and ultimately hampered the team from gainingeven more momentum after a four game unbeaten streak in both MLS and Open Cupplay.I think they tried to do the rightthings, they just didn't particularly play well tonight, said Earthquakes headcoach Frank Yallop of the teams performance.The U.S. Open Cup is a singleelimination cup competition founded in 1914 that allows any team in the UnitedStates, professional or amateur, to enter. In the past few years, the winnerhas also been rewarded a berth in the prestigious CONCACAF Champions League, North America's most important club competition."Open Cup's the oldest tournamentthere is in the U.S.It's a great thing," said Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski after theteam's 2-1 win over the New England Revolution on Saturday.RELATED: Wondolowski to play for U.S. in Gold Cup
Despite the importance attached to thecompetition, the Earthquakes fielded a lineup featuring just two starters fromthe team's previous two league wins over Columbus, while the Fire fielded five of the same players that started in their 2-1loss at the Philadelphia Union.McLoughlin was given his first-everEarthquakes start after coming off the bench to score the opening goal versusNew England, while goalkeeper Andrew Weber made his first appearance since 2009in order to give former Chicago goalkeeper Jon Busch a rest.While the lineup suggested the gamemight be used as a break for the regular starters, the team's aggressive styleof play certainly indicated that it was not about to take the Open Cup lightly.NEWS: MLS standings
However, after heading into the breakwith a comfortable 2-0 lead, Yallop was forced to switch out McLoughlin, whopicked up a groin strain, for Scott Sealy.We had some nice play. We finished offtwo good goals and then we created a lot of other opportunities, Wondolowskicommented. We have to do better at finishing off the game and if we get thatthird one game's done.From there, Chicago threatened twiceearly on in the second half and eventually fought their way back through aplaced shot in the 61st by substitute forward Orr Barouch that Weber saw toolate. Fifteen minutes later, and Chicago was on level terms after an error fromWeber allowed Fire defender Yamith Cuesta a simple finish.The game was won and lost on errors.Obviously the second one cost us the game, Yallop explained. It didn't lookgreat for Andrew Weber, I'm not sure, but it seemed to squirt out of hisgrasp on the shot.NEWS: MLS scoreboard
With the game going into overtime, San Jose's cup dreamreceived a small boost as Fire midfielder Gonzalo Segares was shown a red cardfor abusive language. However, the Earthquakes could not break down a tireless Chicago defense, meaningthe tie would be decided by a shootout from the penalty spot.Each team converted four of their fiveinitial penalties, but after Chicago'sDaniel Paladini buried his shot, Sealy blasted his attempt off the undersideoff the crossbar, keeping the Fire's perfect record of U.S. Open Cupqualification intact.It's unfortunate to go into PKs andlose the way we did, but the effort was there and we were a little unfortunatetonight, a couple bounces here or there, lamented Earthquakes defender BobbyBurling.For the Earthquakes, the defeat represents another blow to ateam that has now failed to qualify for the Open Cup in each of its four yearssince it returned to San Jose.However, the Earthquakes will get a shot at redemption and a chance to keeptheir positive string of results in the league alive as they travel to Chicago to take on theFire once more, this time in MLS play, on May 28.For moreEarthquakes and MLS information, you can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter:@nicholasrosano.
May 25, 2011EARTHQUAKES PAGENick Rosano