Earthquakes Look to Prevent Series Sweep

Posted on 31 July 2008 by Evan White

For the first time since June 10, the Earthquakes will have the luxury of playing two home games in a row. Although this week’s “home” game will be played at McAfee Coliseum on Sunday at noon, the San Jose players haven’t spent this much time in the Bay Area in months. Unfortunately the LA Galaxy will feel right at home in Oakland. This will be the second LA-SJ matchup in the Quakes three games in at McAfee Coliseum. Between the on-field familiarity and frenetic faithful, the Los Angeles Galaxy will have an unusual level of comfort for a road game. Aside from the throngs of David Beckham fans, the Earthquakes must be ready for the media circus set to roll in to town.

While the playoff hopes might be dashed, the Earthquakes have plenty to play for in the chance to salvage one game from their bitter rivals. So far the Galaxy have controlled the season series, winning both of the previous games. The latest match ended in a 3-0 romp for LA, as Edson Buddle completed his second hat trick of the season to route the Quakes. Despite the tough loss, the David Beckham attention tidal wave did spur the largest Earthquake home crowd in history, with an attendance of 39,872.

It has been a busy week for San Jose’s players and front office. On Sunday they returned home with a few fresh faces to take on the New York Red Bulls. The defense did not allow a goal, but the game still ended in a 1-1 tie. Four minutes in to the game, Red Bull Dave van den Bergh sent a non-threatening long cross in to the San Jose box. Defender Eric Denton attempted to head the ball back to keeper Joe Cannon, but the ball slipped over Cannon for the own goal. The rest of the game was nearly spotless for San Jose, as they played what Yallop referred to as one of their best efforts in the post-game press conference.

“The first half was probably the best that we’ve played this year. We obviously gave them an early goal, but throughout the game, I never felt threatened even though they had, I think, one of the best players in the league on the field. Finishing is the thing that we are struggling with right now, but that will come.”

Just nine minutes after their own goal, the Earthquakes were able to equalize off a Ronnie O’Brien throw in. The new acquisitions did not wait long to have a major impact, as Scott Sealy received the O’Brien throw in with his back to the goal. Sealy’s quick shot was deflected away by keeper Jon Conway, but the rebound was quickly throttled by Darren Huckerby for the first goal of his MLS career. The two have started to forge an early chemistry, as Huckerby was able to adjust his play off of Sealy’s tendencies.

“I have been watching Scott [Sealy], he tends to turn and shoot pretty early so I knew he was going to shoot, but I didn’t know if the goalkeeper was going to drop it or not. He dropped it and I don’t tend to score many tap-ins, but it counts the same as a long shot, so I’m pretty pleased with it.”

San Jose brought in another big name this week, acquiring Arturo Alvarez from FC Dallas for a first round pick in the 2009 SuperDraft and allocation money. This will be Alvarez’s second tour of duty with the Earthquakes, as he was originally drafted by them in 2003. In press release John Doyle displayed his excitement for the new addition, and the multitude of positives he brings with him.
“Arturo is a dynamic attacking player who should fit in well with our team… He can play both in midfield and at forward so he also has great versatility, which is important for us as we continue to build our team.”

Alvarez scored 11 goals and had 11 assists in 86 appearances for FC Dallas, establishing himself as a young weapon who will contribute for many years to come. As San Jose has been acquiring forwards throughout the season, they traded one away this week as well.
Forward Kei Kamara was sent to Houston in exchange for allocation money and a 2009 SuperDraft first round pick. The Sierra Leone native has scored two goals for the Earthquakes in 12 games, including 11 starts.

The Galaxy are coming off a 4-0 loss at the hands of FC Dallas, who were able to slow the Los Angeles attack. Kenny Cooper provided two goals for Dallas, while Dominic Oduro and Abe Thompson each slotted a goal of their own.

The game was an all around poor performance by the Galaxy, providing a sentiment of frustration that the Earthquakes are hoping to replicate. David Beckham tore in to his team in a press release after their loss to FC Dallas, clearly unhappy with the club’s effort.
“We didn’t deserve to win, we didn’t play well, we didn’t start the game well and our effort was bad to start the game. So there’s nothing really positive to take from the game. The best team won on the day and congratulations to them but we’ve got a lot to work on. We have to forget this game now and try to think positive about the game next weekend.”

San Jose’s defense has been especially spectacular lately, and will need to continue as so against one of the league’s most potent offenses. The Earthquake backline has allowed only 3 opponent goals in the past 5 games. If the new additions can make continue to make big contributions, the Quakes will finally get their first win at “home field” McAfee Coliseum.

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