Quakes look to snap winless streak vs. Timbers


Quakes look to snap winless streak vs. Timbers

Aug. 5, 2011PORTLAND TIMBERS (7-4-10) vs.
EARTHQUAKES (5-9-8)7:30 p.m. on CSN Plus
Nicholas RosanoCSNBayArea.com

SANTA CLARA The statistics paint an accurate picture ofthe Earthquakes less than enviable situation -- in nine prior games, the teamhas been shut out seven times, managed four goals, and failed to collect asingle win. Hardly the recipe for a playoff run come October, but as anyonewhos been around MLS will tell you, it can take a single win to turn thingsaround. The Earthquakes will certainly be banking on that notion asthey play host to the visiting Portland Timbers on Saturday evening. A win, andthe team leapfrogs not only the Timbers, but perhaps other teams competing fora wild card berth come the end of the regular season in October. A loss,though, especially with a combination of unfavorable results, could sink theteams playoff chances entirely. Come this Saturday, if we get a good home win, I think thatsets it up for the rest of the year, coach Frank Yallop said. If we tie orlose, I think itll be a struggle. We can still do it, but this is an importantgame for us. As it stands, the current signs point to an eventualstruggle as the Earthquakes try and scratch their way into one of the leaguesfour wild card berths. Between the Timbers decent form, the Earthquakes lackthereof and the continued absence of two key offensive contributors, theEarthquakes will need to come up with something new if they want to getanything from this vital match. To start, as the Earthquakes watched their upcomingopponents closely on Wednesday night, they saw a team tear apart the LosAngeles Galaxy -- the best team in the league as far as the standings areconcerned --by a comfortable 3-0 score, even without their All-Star midfielderand captain, Jack Jewsbury. I did see their game last night and that was a lot of funto watch, I thought they played really well, Earthquakes defender JasonHernandez said. We know they have a lot of options going forward, and theyrepretty direct and pretty dangerous and I think its going to be a tough taskfor us as a unit to make sure were keeping track of their major weapons forthe entire 90 minutes. Not only did the Timbers dismantle the Galaxys defense, butalso their own defense -- not by any means the tightest in the league --managed to shut out a Galaxy lineup rife with attacking talent, featuring thelikes of Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Juan Pablo Angel. Considering Steven Lenhart (granted an indefinite familyleave of absence) and Simon Dawkins (hamstring injury) -- San Joses two keyoffensive contributors aside from Chris Wondolowski -- will miss the Portlandshowdown, the Earthquakes might have to take a fresh look at their attack afterbeing shut out in their previous two games by D.C. United and Real Salt Lake.Yallop admitted that the loss of those two players, both added to the rosterprior to the start of the season, was a big factor in the teams positive runof results earlier in the year. I think Simon gives us that little bit of guile, little bitof unpredictable play, quickness, sharpness, Yallop said. Not that we rely onone person, but I think that between him and Lenhart, we had some forcefulnessand creativeness underneath. I think at the moment we probably dont haveeither. Despite the loss of two players that have done a lot to setup Wondolowksis eight goals and garnered nine goals between them this season,the team stressed the importance of adopting a fresh offensive approach inorder to find their scoring touch. To be honest, I think we just need to take a couple morechances, Wondolowski said. I feel trying to not always look for that killerball, but maybe serve some balls in the box, have some guys make more runs inthe box. I think that well continue to do that and I think that when we getour chances well finish them and thats going to be the key. Joining Wondolowski up top will likely be Scott Sealy, a manthe Earthquakes could really use a goal from. Since joining the Earthquakes in2010, the Trinidadian forward has managed just two assists and not a singlegoal. He will be helped by the return of Bobby Convey to a more familiar leftwing position and Joey Gjertsen lining up on the right wing, ensuring astarting eleven featuring players in their natural positions -- not always agiven considering Yallops frequent lineup changes. In a similar vein, the Earthquakes might just be able tomatch the Timbers defense this time around -- for the first time in nearly amonth, Yallop will be able to field what most reckon is his first-choicedefensive unit. Jason Hernandez and Steven Beitashour are set to return frominjury, while Bobby Burling will certainly be featured after a one-gamesuspension, and Ramiro Corrales will move to left back after deputizing as anemergency center back in last Saturdays 2-0 loss to D.C. United. I think a lot can be said for team chemistry and defendingas a unit, Hernandez said. I think having three familiar faces is going tomake a lot of difference and hopefully we can pick up where we left off inbeing able to grind out some results. Backing up that claim is the fact that only two of theEarthquakes eight losses this season have come when at least three ofHernandez, Burling, Beitashour and Corrales have been on the field. In one ofthose, a 2-0 setback at Chivas USA,both goals came in the second half, after Beitashour left the game injured. While the statistics can certainly paint a picture of thepast, whether good or bad, the game Saturday wont be about breaking a certaintrend, but rather about starting a new one. As Hernandez told reporters, Hopefully Saturday night willbe the first step towards a good run to try and finish the seasonstrong.For more Earthquakes, MLS and world soccer musings,you can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter @nicholasrosano

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


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


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


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


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.”