Quakes set for Red Bulls on Stanford pitch


Quakes set for Red Bulls on Stanford pitch


Nicholas Rosano

PALO ALTO New stadiums are popping up all across the MLS landscape and on Saturday evening, the Earthquakes will get a chance to test out some new digs of their own when they welcome the New York Red Bulls at Stanford Stadium. While the short move from Santa Clara to Palo Alto is for one game only, the Earthquakes have already found themselves right at home in a stadium that boasts five times the capacity of the teams usual stomping grounds at Buck Shaw Stadium. While Stanford Stadium cant exactly boast the same intimacy offered by Buck Shaw, those around the team anticipate that the atmosphere afforded by a bigger crowd will be a boon to the teams chances of winning. Were expecting between 20 and 30,000 people for the game, so its going to be great, said head coach Frank Yallop, of the anticipated atmosphere. Part of the draw comes from the events being planned around the game. The one-time move to Stanford coincides with the Fourth of July weekend, with Monday representing the 17th anniversary of the United States national teams 1-0 loss to eventual winners Brazil in the knockout rounds of the 1994 World Cup, a game played at Stanford Stadium. The veterans of that team will be honored in a pre-game ceremony, and a fireworks show will follow the game. I think it shows the fans will support us if we put on a show and weve got the game, and fireworks and all those things, but I think there are enough soccer fans around here that will come and support the team, Yallop said. Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski, who will be playing his first game in an Earthquakes uniform since missing the month of June on duty with the U.S. national team, insisted that the team was ready to handle a louder, more boisterous crowd. I think the guys will be alright, Wondolowski said. Weve had a lot of guys that have played in big games and Ive had big moments and big crowds, so I think well be alright and I think guys will make the most of it and enjoy it.
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While the crowd will be bigger than what the Earthquakes usually get, the field itself looks set to be smaller. It was narrow for practice on Thursday, with almost no separation between the stands and the playing surface, which could present a unique challenge for soccer teams playing their game on a field designed primarily for football. Indeed, the field at Stanford Stadium drew comparisons from two Earthquakes players to the teams old home ground at Spartan Stadium, on the campus of San Jose State University, also used primarily for college football. With football requiring a field slightly longer and narrower than soccer, the tight dimensions of Stanford Stadium could require some adjustments to both teams game plans. Its definitely tighter, Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch said. Its going to be almost like were playing at Spartan Stadium back in the day where you can shoot from any angle. You have to be aware of that, balls are going to move around quickly and you have to be aware from shots coming from any different angle, because it is going to be a bit tighter than over at Santa Clara. Wondolowski, meanwhile, pointed out that the narrow dimensions of the field could not only affect how the game is played, but also how the crowd factors into the game. To be honest, it kind of reminds me of Spartan Stadium with the walls closed and tight like that and I hope it brings a little bit of the intimidation that Spartan did and something that Buck Shaw has a little bit, he said. Its kind of reminiscent of those fields and I think well play well on it.Between the intimidation factor and the narrow field, the Earthquakes certainly have their advantages in Saturdays game, ones that might be crucial in overcoming a very talented New York team. It isnt home in the truest sense, but if the stadium turns out as anticipated, it could provide just the boost the Earthquakes need.For more Earthquakes, MLS and 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.”