Monday, September 3, 2012

First-place San Jose Earthquakes cruise past Chivas USA - Alameda Times-Star

SANTA CLARA -- The Earthquakes continued soaring with confidence Sunday night in routing Chivas USA 4-0 to remain unbeaten at Buck Shaw Stadium this season and regain the overall lead in Major League Soccer.

San Jose (16-6-5) scored an entertaining victory in front of a sellout crowd of 10,525 despite no goals from its big three strikers. But the 2012 Quakes are more than Chris Wondolowski (18 goals), Alan Gordon (11 goals) and Steven Lenhart (eight goals).

"We've got so many guys who can contribute, it is fun to watch," said goalkeeper Jon Busch, who had four spectacular saves to demoralize Chivas USA.

English midfielder Simon Dawkins got his fifth goal in eight games off a Wondolowski assist in the 39th minute. It was his career-high seventh goal of the season as the Tottenham Hotspur product continues to show he is one of MLS' best players.

But the rest of the goals Sunday came off free kicks by defenders -- the players who do the dirty work without fanfare.

"I can't remember the last time I scored two goals in a match," said Ramiro Corrales, who got his first goals of 2012.

Honduran defender Victor Bernardez began the scoring avalanche in the 11th minute with a scorching 30-yard kick through Chivas' wall as San Jose scored four goals for the second consecutive match.

"I felt confident," he said in Spanish. "I wanted to put it on frame."

The Earthquakes set a franchise record with 56 goals for the season

-- one more than in 1997. And they still have seven regular-season games left.

"If you asked me before the start of the season I'm not sure we could do that," coach Frank Yallop said of the impressive output.

Yallop's players opened the final two months of the year eying a regular-season title. When Sporting Kansas City joined San Jose atop the standings with 50 points Saturday, the Quakes wanted to respond.

"We said, "Let's get back in first place,' " fullback Steven Beitashour said.

The Quakes were ready to make a statement at the right venue. San Jose remained unbeaten at Buck Shaw this year with a 9-0-3 record. They also extended their lead in the Western Conference to seven points over Real Salt Lake (14-10-4).

Despite the score Chivas USA (7-11-7) didn't play horribly in losing to San Jose for only the second time since the Quakes re-entered MLS in 2008. The Los Angeles club just couldn't convert its chances when it had the Earthquakes on their heels.

Two of those shots came from teen star Juan Agudelo on first-half breakaways that Busch stuffed.

"I'm running out of ways to say, 'How the heck can you give up four goals?' " captain Danny Califf said. "We need to fix everything. The big thing is converting chances."

San Jose doesn't have that problem. After Bernardez and Dawkins gave their team a 2-0 lead before halftime the Quakes kept pressing throughout the final 45 minutes.

"I talked to the guys about maintaining the standard that we have set this year every game, and we certainly did that tonight," Yallop said. "As a group, we kept pushing and never took our foot off the gas. We really wanted a clean sheet, and we worked hard for it."

The Quakes play host to Mexican club San Luis FC in a friendly Thursday at Buck Shaw before returning to MLS action Sept. 15 at Chivas USA.

ThurSday's game

San Luis FC at Earthquakes, 7:30 p.m.

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