Earthquakes

'Quakes take opener, beat Revolution 1-0

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'Quakes take opener, beat Revolution 1-0

MATCH STATS

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- After a 2011 season in which the Earthquakes constantly surrendered leads, they kicked off their 2012 campaign by making a 1-0 lead stand against the New England Revolution.

Chris Wondolowski capitalized on an assist from Shea Salinas in the first half for the games lone tally.

The recently returned Salinas made his mark quickly, causing the Revolution defense plenty of problems with his pace and technique, and it was his opportunistic play that led to the first goal.

He picked up an errant pass from Shalrie Joseph and threaded the ball through to Wondolowski, who finished to give the Earthquakes the lead a quarter of an hour into the game.

Wondolowski had a half-chance to double the Earthquakes advantage later in the first half as a free kick from Marvin Chavez took an awkward bounce, and the forward was unable to get the right touch.

The sequence summed up the Quakes first half struggles on set pieces, as they were unable to manufacture a shot on target despite two corner kicks and four free kicks close to the Revolution area.

The start of the second half did not yield many opportunities, either, as both teams struggled to maintain possession for an extended period of time. The best chance in the early stages of the half came as Rafael Baca sent Marvin Chavez though on the right-hand side, only for Chavezs cross to roll agonizingly ahead of onrushing Steven Lenhart.

Despite the Earthquakes inability to convert a second goal, the team had little trouble holding on to its one-goal advantage, in large part thanks tothe play of offseason pickup Victor Bernardez in the center of defense. The towering Hondurans positioning and ability to read the game were evident throughout the match.

The Revolution did have two dangerous opportunities in the second half, the first as Lee Nguyen cut into the box, only for his cutback to be turned behind by Bernardez.

The second came as the game neared the 80 minute mark and Revolution forward Blake Brettschneider received the ball in the center of the area, only to catch air as he attempted to turn and shoot.

Both teams went close in the final stages of the match, with Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber rasping a shot just wide of Jon Buschs goal before Simon Dawkins flashed his own effort across the face of goal on the other end, only to see it roll just wide, and the Earthquakes went on to see the game to its conclusion.

For more Earthquakes, MLS and world soccer chatter, you can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter: @nicholasrosano

Road woes continue, Quakes fall to Dynamo

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USATSI

Road woes continue, Quakes fall to Dynamo

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON  — Alberth Elis and Vicente Sanchez each had a goal and an assist, and the Houston Dynamo blanked the San Jose Earthquakes 3-0 on Saturday night.

Houston (10-7-7) joined Seattle and Sporting Kansas City at the top of the Western Conference standings by improving to 9-0-3 at home.

Elis got his head on a corner kick by Boniek García to open the scoring with his seventh goal in the 21st minute. It was the Dynamos' league-leading 17th goal off a set piece.

Elis helped ice the game in the 86th minute with a nifty touch to get around a defender before Sanchez beat his defender and the goalkeeper to the centering pass for his first goal.

Sanchez gathered a loose ball just before it crossed the end line and centered it to Mauro Manotas for his eighth goal in stoppage time.

Tyler Deric had three saves for his fourth shutout.

San Jose (9-10-5) has lost five straight on the road and remains one point up on Vancouver for the final playoff spot.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Quakes' 2-1 win over Columbus

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USATSI

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Quakes' 2-1 win over Columbus

BOX SCORE

It appears that stretches at Avaya Stadium for the San Jose Earthquakes are showing up on the schedule at just the right times. 

Not too long ago, the Quakes were reeling after a miserable stretch of soccer on the road. But now, after two straight wins at Avaya -- the latest a 2-1 victory over Columbus Crew SC on Saturday -- San Jose is once again knocking on MLS' playoff door. 

Marco Ureña scored in the 42nd minute and Chris Wondolowski added the eventual game-winner in the 56th. 

It's going to make for a nail-biting latter part of the season for sure in the super tight Western Conference. But for now celebrate with these five takeaways from the Earthquakes' ninth win of the season. 

-- Don't look now, but the win on Saturday means the Quakes have already surpassed their total from last year. The victory jumps their point total to 32, good for fifth in the Western Conference as of this article's publication. Dallas' loss and more importantly Vancouver's draw were huge results for San Jose as the season turns to the scoreboard-watching phase with eight teams jockeying for six playoff spots. 

-- Have a game, Tommy Thompson. Columbus controlled the first 20-25 minutes but it was around that time that the midfielder began to put his stamp on the match -- much to the appreciation of his San Jose teammates. He gave Columbus fits purely with his work rate and along with his assist, he came within inches of his second goal of the season. It was undoubtedly one of Thompson's most complete matches. Not only did he facilitate Wondolowski's goal, but defensively, Thompson was a visible and noticeable force. One has to wonder if he's turned the corner with that aspect of the game -- it was his defense that many speculated was keeping him out of the lineup during Dominic Kinnear's time as the head coach. 

-- Marco Ureña scored his third goal of the season and his first since a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake on June 24. Ureña was a mainstay in Kinnear's lineup and hasn't really gotten the opportunity to earn the trust of new head coach Chris Leitch -- with a lot of his time spent on international duty since the Leitch was hired. Keep an eye out on that relationship. 

And, it's also time to acknowledge another round number for Wondolowski. With his goal in the 56th minute, the forward has hit the 130 career goals mark -- 123 of those have come since 2010. 

Wondolowski is still fourth on the all-time list but now he's only three behind Jaime Moreno and four behind Jeff Cunningham. 

-- That's now back-to-back impressive performances for David Bingham. And that has to feel super good for the former Cal keeper considering the defensive disaster that was San Jose's most recent road trip. 

-- After years of research and MLS flirting with the idea, Video Replay is here. And like most new things that are introduced into a sport rich in tradition, there is plenty of chatter -- for and against the change -- floating around. 

There will be four main areas of focus for MLS' new VAR: goals, penalty calls, direct red-card incidents and cases of mistaken identity (when it relates to yellow and red cards). 

On Saturday, the system was not truly tested except for the couple of minutes it took to analyze Adam Jahn's goal for Columbus.