Earthquakes

'Quakes hoping history doesn't repeat itself vs. Galaxy

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'Quakes hoping history doesn't repeat itself vs. Galaxy

(AP) -- Last year, the Los Angeles Galaxy won the Supporters' Shield and went on to claim the MLS Cup. Now they'll try to put an early end to the San Jose Earthquakes' hopes of doing the same.

The league's most explosive offenses begin a Western Conference semifinal matchup Sunday night when Los Angeles takes on San Jose.

This match marks the first time the Galaxy have hosted the opener of a two-leg aggregate goal series since 2005, when they ultimately upset the Earthquakes on their way to the second of three MLS Cups. This time, Los Angeles is the defending champion but an underdog again as San Jose seeks its first title since 2003.

The teams will meet again Wednesday night at San Jose, with the aggregate winner of the two matches advancing to the conference championship against either Real Salt Lake or the Seattle Sounders FC.

"I said it from day one, no matter what LA's record is, they are the defending champion and someone has to knock them off," Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch told the team's official website. "At the end of the day, it's just another step in the direction of where we want to go and that is how we are looking at it as a team."

Winners of the Supporters' Shield for finishing with the league's best record (19-6-9), the Earthquakes feature an attack that led MLS with 72 goals. Los Angeles ranked second with 59 and hasn't been shut out in 11 consecutive league matches, going 7-1-3. San Jose has been blanked just twice all season.

The clubs combined for 16 goals in three regular-season meetings, with San Jose going 2-0-1 and posting a 3-2 victory May 23 in the only matchup at The Home Depot Center. Most recently, the teams played to a 2-2 draw Oct. 21.

The Earthquakes trailed by two goals in both victories and came back twice from one-goal deficits to salvage the tie. San Jose's Chris Wondolowski, who tied an MLS single-season record with 27 goals, tallied two scores in the three games.

"We've played the Galaxy three times and every game has been very good," defender Justin Morrow said. " ... I think to beat them this time, we can't give up goals. It will be different in the playoffs. We have come back all season."

The Galaxy are fresh off a 2-1 comeback win over Vancouver in a knockout playoff match Thursday. Mike Magee provided the tying goal in the 69th minute, and London Donovan added to his league record with his 21st career postseason goal in the 73rd minute.

San Jose hasn't played since closing the regular season with a 1-1 draw in Portland last Saturday.

"They have the Supporters' Shield, so they're pushing for it, but we're the defending MLS Cup champions and we have a lot of pride with that," Los Angeles defender Todd Dunivant told the team's official website. "There's no doubt that we want to see ourselves back in that position again."

The Galaxy posted just two wins over the teams' last 11 meetings, with both victories coming at home. They've won nine of 10 home games across all competitions, scoring 26 goals.

The Earthquakes had a league-high nine road wins this year. They had been 0-4-1 in their previous five road games versus Los Angeles before the victory in May.

Alan Gordon scored the winner in stoppage time of that game, and it's possible he will return after missing four weeks with a sprained ankle. Gordon, second on San Jose with 13 goals, is listed as questionable.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Quakes' 3-0 loss to Sounders

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USATSI

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Quakes' 3-0 loss to Sounders

BOX SCORE

What a difference a week makes.

The San Jose Earthquakes entered their two-game, coast-to-coast swing of road games in playoff position. 

But now, after a 5-1 loss to the Red Bulls in the middle of last week and on Sunday, a 3-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders, the Quakes are in seventh place in the Western Conference -- on the outside looking in. 

Here are five takeaways from defeat number nine on the season:

-- For the first 53 minutes there, it looked like San Jose had corrected what ailed them against the Red Bulls. They bent but did not break. 

But Christian Roldan opened the flood gates in the 54th minute, capitalizing on a defensive miscue and then it didn't take Seattle too much longer to put the game out of reach -- and make the Quakes look completely out of place. 

Roldan scored again in the 56th minute and Kelvin Leerdam, starting in his first game for the Sounders, scored nine minutes later. 

Roldan came inches away from his hat trick -- hitting the post in the 79th minute. 

-- Again, it's tough to criticize the play of one player, but in both Roldan goals -- that came within a minute of one another -- Andres Imperiale looked like the target of Seattle's attack -- he got caught flat footed on the first goal and on the second, the Argentinean was beat in the air. 

His defensive partner Victor Bernardez was victimized on that second goal too. 

It's probably not a coincidence then, that the Quakes signed Swiss defender Francois Affolter during the week. 

-- Speaking of Affolter, we've yet to see him at Avaya Stadium. And just like Jesse Fioranelli's other signing, little is known of the international player. Yet, at this point, with injuries and a deep run in the U.S. Open Cup tournament, the Quakes are in need of able bodies. 

Affolter, a center back, does have five international caps and over 200 caps in the Swiss Super League and German Bundesliga. 

-- After losing to New York last week, the Quakes moved below the magic red line in the Western Conference. Sunday's loss to the Sounders is critical -- with 21 games played, the Sounders not only creeped ahead of the Quakes, but are now four points clear of their Western Conference rival for that sixth (and last) playoff spot.  

Over a two-match stretch, the Quakes went from fifth and in the playoffs to seventh and knowing the latter part of the season (13 games) will be an uphill climb. 

-- San Jose got another look at Vako. The midfielder scored against the Red Bulls but, after checking in during minute 62, Vako did not figure into the attack. 

And, in the interest of the aforementioned able bodies, it was positive to see Quincy Amarikwa put in another shift ... and almost score in the 83rd minute.

Altidore, Dempsey lead US past Costa Rica, into Gold Cup final at Levi's

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AP

Altidore, Dempsey lead US past Costa Rica, into Gold Cup final at Levi's

BOX SCORE

ARLINGTON, Texas — Clint Dempsey fed Jozy Altidore for the go-ahead goal, then scored on a free kick to match Landon Donovan’s American record with his 57th international goal and lead the United States over Costa Rica 2-0 Saturday night and into the CONCACAF Gold Cup championship game.

Playing in his home state of Texas, the 34-year-old Dempsey entered in the 66th minute and made a perfectly timed through pass six minutes later that allowed Altidore to break in alone and beat Patrick Pemberton with a left-footed shot from 10 yards.

Dempsey doubled the lead in the 82nd minute with a 27-yard shot that went around a four-man defensive wall and got past Pemberton on two bounces.

“I saw the keeper cheating a little bit, and it went in,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey has 136 international appearances, trailing only Cobi Jones (164) and Donovan (157) among American players. The assist was his 20th for the national team.

“Coming back from two heart procedures, being able to still play at this level,” Dempsey said in his Texas twang, “living a dream. So I’m happy.”

Trying for their sixth Gold Cup title and first since 2013, the Americans play Mexico or Jamaica in the final on Wednesday at Santa Clara, California.

The U.S. improved to 8-0-5 since Bruce Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann in November and returned for a second stint as national team coach. Arena can become the first coach to win three Gold Cup titles following championships in 2002 and 2005.

Tim Howard got his second straight shutout, making key saves on Marco Urena in the 37th and 71st minutes.

After the second save, Dempsey took a pass from Darlington Nagbe in the center circle, made a cut, and took three touches as he sprinted toward goal. Altidore one-timed a shot for his first national team goal since September and ripped off his No. 27 jersey in a wild celebration, earning a yellow card.

Dempsey’s goal sealed the win, putting the U.S. back in the championship after a shocking semifinal loss to Jamaica two years ago. He was playing for the first time in AT&T Stadium, the $1.2 billion home stadium of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys that is about 180 miles from his hometown of Nacogdoches.

“Congratulations, Clint,” Donovan said while working on the Fox telecast of the game. “Feel free to stop now, we’ll share it together.”

After starting in Wednesday’s quarterfinal win over El Salvador, Dempsey moved to a reserve role against the Ticos. While the U.S. inserted five new starters in a roster rotation, Costa Rica went with the same 11 players who started in Wednesday’s win against Panama.

Costa Rica routed the U.S. 4-0 at home in a World Cup qualifier in November, the final game before Klinsmann was fired and Arena was brought back. And up ahead is another matchup, a qualifier on Sept. 1 at Harrison, New Jersey.

Morris, one of the new starters, hit a post just 11 seconds in.

Just before kickoff, El Salvador defender Henry Romero was suspended for his nation’s next six competitive matches and midfielder Darwin Ceren for the next three, those penalties coming three days after Romero bit Altidore and Ceren bit Omar Gonzalez during the quarterfinal. The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football said the discipline was issued by the Gold Cup disciplinary committee for “anti-sporting behavior.”