Wondolowski's hat-trick propels 'Quakes past Rapids

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Wondolowski's hat-trick propels 'Quakes past Rapids

A Chris Wondolowski hat-trick paced the San Jose Earthquakes to a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids at Dicks Sporting Goods Park Saturday night. With the win, the Earthquakes clinched the regular season Western Conference title and a number one seed in the MLS Cup playoffs.

Less than two minutes into the match, Marvin Chavez opened the scoring for San Jose against Colorado, and Wondolowski followed with his 23rd, 24th, and 25th goals of the season. A late red card shown to defender Jason Hernandez resulted in a penalty kick for the Rapids that was converted by Andre Akpan to prevent the home side from being shut out.

With three goals scored, Wondolowski raised his San Jose career total to 62 goals and passed Ronald Cerritos to become the Earthquakes franchise all-time goal scorer. With two more goals in the teams remaining two regular season games, Wondolowski would draw level with Roy Lassiter for the single-season record of 27 goals scored.

The victory moved the Earthquakes six points clear of Sporting Kansas City at the top of the Supporters Shield standings. A loss by Sporting to the Columbus Crew on Sunday would virtually clinch the Shield or San Jose.

Following their road draw with FC Dallas last weekend, the Earthquakes refigured their line-up in search of a victory against the struggling Rapids. Head coach Frank Yallop unveiled a Starting XI that featured the teams three leading scorers this season: Wondolowski, Steven Lenhart, and Alan Gordon. With such offensive power on the field, it did not take long for the visitors to capitalize.

In the second minute, Sam Cronin sent a long free kick into the Rapids area that was cleared right to the feet of Chavez. The Honduran midfielder, who will depart directly from Colorado to join his countrys national team for a pair of World Cup qualifying matches this week, drilled a shot through traffic that left goalkeeper Matt Pickens flat-footed.

The Earthquakes doubled their lead in the 11th minute through Wondolowski, who chested a cross from Rafael Baca past Pickens for what would eventually be counted as his 11th game winning goal of the season.

Colorado twice had opportunities to get on the board in the first half but Justin Morrow cleared a Luis Zapata chipped shot off the line in the 30th minute and Ramiro Corrales nicked a shot from Omar Cummings beyond the far post in the 43rd minute.

Wondolowski netted his second goal of the game in 51st minute after a cross into the area deflected into his path in front of goal. Defender Drew Moor made a touch on the ball as the shot rifled on target, and Pickens was unable to make a try on the goal.
The MLS Golden Boot leader completed his hat-trick in the 83rd minute when the Colorado defense completely lost track of him at the top of the area. Cronin, spying the wide open Wondolowski fed him the ball with plenty of time to turn and shoot on target. The goal extended the Earthquakes lead to 4-0 on the night.

The Rapids pulled one back in stoppage time following a red card to Hernandez and a penalty kick conversation from Akpan. As the last defender on a breakaway, Hernandez tackled Akpan in the area to earn the ejection. The Earthquakes defender will be required to sit out the teams next match.

After a two week break in the schedule, San Jose returns to action on October 21 in a home match against the LA Galaxy at Buck Shaw Stadium. They close out their season with a trip away to Portland the following weekend.

Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win

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AP

Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE — Bruce Arena's return as U.S. coach reignited American confidence, and his players responded with an emphatic rebound in World Cup qualifying.

Clint Dempsey returned from an irregular heartbeat to score his second international hat trick, 18-year-old phenom Christian Pulisic had one goal and set up three others, and the U.S. routed Honduras 6-0 Friday night to get right back in contention for an eighth straight World Cup berth.

Surprise starter Sebastian Lletget got his first international goal in the fifth minute after Pulisic's shot deflected off the goalkeeper, Michael Bradley doubled the lead in the 27th and Dempsey scored off Pulisic's perfectly weighted chip in the 32nd.

Finding room to maneuver in a central midfield role, Pulisic made it 4-0 just 12 seconds into the second half with his fourth international goal, Dempsey rounded the keeper to score following a Pulisic feed in the 49th, and Dempsey got another on a 23-yard free kick in the 54th. With 55 international goals, Dempsey moved within two of Landon Donovan's American record.

In its first competitive match since Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. moved from last to fourth in the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region, tied at three points with Honduras but ahead on goal difference, Mexico leads with seven points, followed by Costa Rica with six and Panama with four.

The top three nations qualify for next year's tournament in Russia, and the fourth-place nation advances to a playoff. With a victory at Panama on Tuesday, the Americans could move into the top three.

The U.S. had never before won a hexagonal game by more than three goals.

And oh how the American Outlaws and others among the lively home crowd loved every second of this long-awaited showing, chanting "Michael Bradley!" and "Demp-sey! Demp-sey!" through the Bay Area rain and cool March air.

Then, it was "Bruce Arena! Bruce Arena!"

Gloom descended upon the Americans in November when they opened the hexagonal with a 2-1 home loss to Mexico and a 4-0 wipeout at Costa Rica. The defeats caused the U.S. Soccer Federation to fire Klinsmann, who had coached the Americans since 2011, and bring back Arena, who lead the team from 1998-2006.

Dempsey, 34 and hoping to reach a fourth World Cup, was sidelined from August until this month by an irregular heartbeat and likely was starting only because of injuries to Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris. Tim Howard, the Americans' 38-year-old goalkeeper, got the shutout after returning only two weeks ago from a leg injury sustained in the loss to Mexico.

Geoff Cameron, back from a knee strain that had sidelined him for fourth months, was shifted to right back from central defense because of injuries to others, and Jorge Villafana was inserted on the left.

But there were yet more injuries. Lletget hurt his left ankle on Ever Alvarado's tackle and was replaced in the 18th minute, and defender John Brooks was stretchered off the field, hand over his face, in the 69th due to dehydration.

From the opening whistle, the U.S. played more aggressively than in the latter years of Klinsmann's reign. Arena revamped the midfield, giving a prominent role to Pulisic, who last week became the youngest American to score in the Champions League. He inserted Lletget and Nagbe, who were largely overlooked by Klinsmann last year, on the flanks.

The U.S. went ahead when Jozy Altidore picked up a loose ball and on his second try poked the ball ahead to Pulisic. His left-footed shot that went off goalkeeper Donis Escobar, and Lletget tapped in the ball with his right foot from 2 yards.

Bradley, given his debut by Arena in 2006, doubled the lead when he took a pass from Alejando Bedoya, cut to his left, took four touches and cut the ball back to beat Escobar with one-hopper from about 25 yards.

Showing poise beyond his years, Pulisic created the third goal when he lofted a pass to Dempsey, who allowed the ball of bounce off his right shoulder. Dempsey held off Henry Figueroa and while falling scored with his right foot from 8 yards.

What they’re saying: Let’s go USMNT against Honduras

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USATSI

What they’re saying: Let’s go USMNT against Honduras

The United States Men's National Team faces a critical match against Honduras. 

With an 0-2 record, and currently in last place, the USMNT is on the brink of not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

Motivation across the sports world is pouring in for the Red, White and Blue.