Wondo's hat trick leads Quakes to 5-0 rout of RSL


Wondo's hat trick leads Quakes to 5-0 rout of RSL

If there was any doubt as to which team deserved to be at the top of the MLS Western Conference standings, it was erased with the San Jose Earthquakes 5-0 dismantling of Real Salt Lake. Chris Wondolowski netted a hat trick for the Quakes, with Alan Gordon and Simon Dawkins adding to the score.

The victory, played out in front of a Buck Shaw Stadium crowd of 10,744, was the Quakes' third of the season over RSL and helped them extend their lead in the race for the Supporters Shield. In addition, Wondolowskis three goals extended his lead in the MLS Golden Boot to a league-topping 17 goals.

Most of the damage against Real Salt Lake came after captain Kyle Beckerman was sent off in the 58th minute for a straight red card offense against Quakes midfielder Sam Cronin. The Earthquakes were leading comfortably by a score of 1-0 at the time, and quickly built their advantage to five goals over the next twenty minutes. The five-goal margin of victory marked the largest in franchise history, achieved on three other occasions.

With the setting sun shining directly into their eyes, the Real Salt Lake defense had some tense moments early on. A misplayed clearance by Jamison Olave in the ninth minute bounced to Wondolowski just outside the area. He carried the ball toward goal and unleashed a low shot that eluded RSL keeper Nick Rimando, but skidded just beyond the far post.

Wondolowski would not miss his next opportunity, as the Earthquakes' MLS All-Star First XI selection tallied his 15th goal of the season in the 18th minute. A corner kick from Marvin Chavez was headed into the mixer by Gordon and redirected toward goal by Justin Morrow. With Rimando rooted to his line, Wondolowski executed a perfect diving header at the far post to give the Earthquakes a one goal lead.

The Earthquakes threatened to double their lead in the 26th minute on a counterattack, but a wide ball to Chavez was poorly crossed into the midsection of RSL defender Kenny Mansally. In an ensuing retaliation tackle against Mansally, Chavez was shown a yellow card.

The match took another turn in favor of the Earthquakes in the 56th minute, when a near melee broke out following a rough challenge on Cronin by RSL midfielder Beckerman. With players jostling near the centerline, referee Allen Chapman showed a straight red card to Beckerman. Additional yellow cards were shown to Morrow for the Earthquakes and Fabian Espindola for Salt Lake.

San Jose didnt need long to double their advantage when, in the 62nd minute, a yellow card foul on Mansally gave the Earthquakes a free kick deep in RSL territory. Chavez delivered a low kick that was headed by Victor Bernandez off the inside of the far post. Gordon, following up the play, made the simplest of touches to send the ball into the back of the net for his seventh goal of the season and a 2-0 Earthquakes lead.

Wondolowski scored his second goal of the night in the 72nd minute, when he was able to sneak behind the defense and redirect a Shea Salinas cross with the outside of his boot just inside the near post. The goal was Wondolowskis 16th of the season, matching his entire total for the 2011 season when he shared the MLS lead with Dwayne De Rosario.

As the game devolved more into an Earthquakes shooting drill, second half substitute Dawkins put his name on the scoresheet with a goal in the 79th minute. A corner kick from Salinas was redirected in the area by Wondolowski for the Tottenham loanee to blast into the roof of the net for a 4-0 lead.

Wondolowski completed his hat trick in the 80th minute with a one-on-one finish against besieged RSL keeper Rimando. After second-half substitute Khari Stephenson threaded a through ball to Wondolowski, he calmly shot the ball low and to the far post for the Earthquakes' fifth goal of the night.

The Earthquakes next host FC Dallas at Buck Shaw Stadium on Wednesday, July 18.

Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win


Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win


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


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.