MLS: Dallas Burn at San Jose Earthquakes
Soccer: MLS: Dallas Burn at San Jose Earthquakes
Wow, I thought last week's televised game was awesome, but this time I got to see the Quakes turn it on in person. Last week the Dallas Burn were supposed to be eliminated from the playoffs when they played the top team in the East, the Chicago Fire. Instead they came out and won, beating the Fire 2-0. Which Burn would show up? Which Quakes? The answers started immediately after kickoff. Right away the ball was kicked out of play and the Quakes' awesome rookie Todd Dunnivant took the throw-in. He's famous for his ability to throw long, and boy did he deliver. From the sideline on the Quake's half of the field, he threw the ball over the back of the Dallas' defense. Dewayne DeRosario darted onto it, and as the Burn keeper came out to cut down the angle, Dewayne slid it under him to the far post for the opening goal. This goal set an amazing MLS record for the fastest goal in American soccer history at eleven seconds! Wow!
But that was just the beginning. I knew Dallas isn't as bad of a team as their record indicates, and they showed it. Minutes later they tied the game on a corner kick that was headed into the goal. The crowd was stunned. But three minutes later the Quakes were back ahead when Donovan pressured away a ball just above the Quakes' penalty area, sliding it to Chris Roner and darting ahead. Chris fed the ball back up the sideline, but it got away from Donovan as the Dallas defense picked it up. But Landon didn't stop his run, continuing to pressure the defense. His pressure astonishly paid off as he won the ball and took off with a one-on-one with the keeper. But the angle was poor so Donovan did the unselfish thing and squared a ball over to an onrushing DeRosario who easily put it into an empty goal. The fans were going mad -- three goals in just eleven minutes. But we hadn't seen anything yet.
Just three minutes later, the Burn amazingly leveled the game again! The Quakes best defense in the league fell apart as Ali Curtis got ahold of a bouncing ball in the penalty area and managed to knock it around Pat Onstad to tie the score. The crowd went into stunned silence. My brother and I were freaking out -- could our hearts stand this kind of up-and-down emotional rollercoaster? Well, we needn't have worried. The Dallas goals seemed to inspire the Quakes who didn't want to pull a Chicago and lose to the worst team in the league. They attacked with vigor and fury, and by the end of the half, the Quakes were leading 4-2! Both additional goals were scored by none other than Landon Donovan. The first was a simple ball over the top where Landon beat the offside trap and made the finish against the keeper look easy. The second was a great Brian Mullan cross which Donovan calmly headed into the goal at the near post, eeriely reminiscent of his great World Cup goal last summer. What was amazing about the goal was that Donovan started the play in his own half and ran all the way to the goal leaving Dallas in the dust. That kid can run! According to the league: "The six-goal first half set a number of League records, including the fastest four, five, and six goal totals in MLS history. The 4-2 score line equaled the largest first half total ever recorded in League play, tying the record set by Dallas v. Colorado (June 16, 2001) and Columbus v. Chicago (June 2, 2002)."
In the second half, it was obvious the Burn were beat, as they couldn't get past Pat Onstad who made a handful of excellent saves. The Quakes certainly didn't stop, with Dewayne DeRosario duplicately Donovan's effort last week with a hat trick! He scored his third with his back to the goal, whirling and kicking without even looking, cleaning beating the Burn defense and keeper with a darting shot that curled into the far corner. Amazing! After never having a hat trick in team history until last week, the Quakes do it again a week later. Insane. The win eliminates the Burn from the playoffs (sadly, their first time not making the post-season leaving L.A. as the only team to make the playoffs every year) and puts San Jose eleven points ahead of second-place Colorado Rapids in the Western conference and six points ahead of everyone else in the league (awesome). With two more home games and a game in Colorado and L.A. left, San Jose has a chance to really distance themselves from everyone in the next few weeks. We'll see what happens. Final: 5-2 San Jose Earthquakes.