'Quakes ride 2nd half surge to end winless streak

September 11, 2011, 5:17 am
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Nick Rosano

Its been a long time coming, but the Earthquakes havefinally snapped their 13 game winless streak. On the back of a strong secondhalf showing and goals from Chris Wondolowski and Ramiro Corrales, theEarthquakes were able to overcome the Chicago Fire 2-0 to keep their slimplayoff chances alive for another week. It wasnt always easy, though.After Wondolowskis 10th minute opener andhalf-chance for Khari Stepehenson minutes later, the Earthquakes found thegoing tough as Chicago dominated the run of play, creating a number of chancesagainst a beleaguered San Jose back line. We weathered the storm in the first half; they should havescored, but we got through that and our response in the second half was great,said head coach Frank Yallop, adding, Their chances in the first half came offour mistakes. In particular, the team was bailed out by Jon Busch twice inthe dying minutes of the first half. First, he did well to deny the FiresDominic Oduro on a one-on-one chance after a giveaway in the midfield. Secondslater, he was on hand to deny a volley from Sebastian Grazzini after theEarthquakes failed to fully clear their lines from a corner. However, the second half yielded much more positive play asthe team connected its passes better and put pressure on Chicago right from the restart. Simon Dawkinsand Rafael Baca were active in the center of midfield, while Wondolowskicontinued to test Sean Johsnon in the Chicagogoal, albeit without much luck. It took a little bit of concentration and execution on ourpart. I thought the movement was there in the first half, we just couldntconnect on some passes, Wondolowski said of the teams second half improvement.While Wondolowski was unable to convert a 53rdminute penalty kick, he spared himself some blushes when he set up Corralessecond goal in the 69th minute after a nicely-worked passingmove.In the second half, we connected our passes and executed onour chances. I am a little disappointed I couldnt get that second goal, but Iam thankful for our defense and Ramiro (Corrales) to clean up and get us the2-0 win, he added. Baca in particular impressed Yallop with his active play inthe midfield, earning commendation from his coach, who said, Im very happyfor Rafa; good player, good kid. Hell continue to see time if he keeps playinglike that. Alongside Baca, who is just now enjoying a run in theEarthquakes first team after signing for the team in July, Yallop reservedpraise for a player on the opposite end of the spectrum. Corrales, playing inhis 209th Earthquakes game, was dangerous on the left flank and dida reasonable job of containing Chicagospace on the other end of the field. Ramiro was very good tonight, and of course he scored thesecond goal, Yallop said. His general play is fantastic right now. Hes ourcaptain and I think his play is indicative of what hes done all year.Despite the impressive contributions across the Earthquakesattacking front, the teams defensive ability told as they managed to get aclean sheet, the teams first since a 0-0 draw at the Columbus Crew on July 16.(Jon) Busch was the man of the match and our defense playedgreat, Wondolowski said. To get a shutout against that team, it makes thiswin that much more special. In addition to Buschs five saves, the defense did well tocontain a Fire offense that has scored two goals in each of its last threecompetitive matches. In particular, Oduro, one of MLS hottest strikers, wasnot able to use his pace to great effect against a well-drilled Quakesbackline. After a win that Yallop was quick to characterize as arelief, the Earthquakes will travel to face the Houston Dynamo to kick off athree game road trip. A win in Houstoncould see the Earthquakes reassert themselves in the playoff race, while a losscould all but kill the teams already slim chances.Hopefully we can go to Houston with a fresh attitude, and if we canwin there, well be right back in it, Yallop said.For more Earthquakes, MLS and world soccer musings,you can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter: @nicholasrosano

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