Earthquakes Continue Playoff Push With 1-0 Win Over Philadelphia

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San Jose Survives Determined Philadelphia Push

Philadelphia forced corner after corner. Sebastien Le Toux repeatedly sent in menacing, curving crosses. And one last ball through the box in the 93rd minute caromed off of Tim Ward’s foot and miraculously went right into the arms of goalkeeper Jon Busch to preserve San Jose’s win and three more crucial points.

As soon as Chris Wondolowski scored Philadelphia brought on all of their offensive firepower, and the successfully pressed forward for the remainder of the game. Jon Busch met every cross and loose ball and a team wide defensive effort helped San Jose hold on. And were it not from a spectacular, leaping, finger tip save from Brad Knighton on a beautiful dead ball shot off the foot of Geovanni, San Jose might have entered their 10 day break between games with a 2-0 victory.

Nevertheless, this was a game against a weaker opponent that San Jose had to win if they want to move forward in the playoff chase. And with this win the Quakes moved ahead of Colorado and into the sixth place playoff spot out of eight. With the easiest remaining schedule amongst contenders, a game in hand on many of their competitors and lots of momentum, a playoff spot appears to be there for the taking. But with seven games left the Quakes will most certainly have to earn it.

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San Jose Survives Determined Philadelphia Push

Philadelphia forced corner after corner. Sebastien Le Toux repeatedly sent in menacing, curving crosses. And one last ball through the box in the 93rd minute caromed off of Tim Ward’s foot and miraculously went right into the arms of goalkeeper Jon Busch to preserve San Jose’s win and three more crucial points.

As soon as Chris Wondolowski scored Philadelphia brought on all of their offensive firepower, and the successfully pressed forward for the remainder of the game. Jon Busch met every cross and loose ball and a team wide defensive effort helped San Jose hold on. And were it not from a spectacular, leaping, finger tip save from Brad Knighton on a beautiful dead ball shot off the foot of Geovanni, San Jose might have entered their 10 day break between games with a 2-0 victory.

Nevertheless, this was a game against a weaker opponent that San Jose had to win if they want to move forward in the playoff chase. And with this win the Quakes moved ahead of Colorado and into the sixth place playoff spot out of eight. With the easiest remaining schedule amongst contenders, a game in hand on many of their competitors and lots of momentum, a playoff spot appears to be there for the taking. But with seven games left the Quakes will most certainly have to earn it.

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Wondolowski Heads In For 1-0 San Jose Lead!

San Jose finally managed to work the ball into the box, and Arturo Alvarez sent in a perfect cross, right onto the head of an unmarked Chris Wondolowski, who headed into the left side of the goal to finally end a goalless tie. Philadelphia goalkeeper Brad Knighton actually managed to get his fingertips on the header, but it was much to powerful to not end up in the back of the net.

In response Philadelphia brought in rookie of the year candidate Danny Mwanga as a striker in place of Midfielder Fred. Mwanga may play as a 3rd forward, or Le Toux could pull back into a more attacking midfield role. In either case, Philadelphia will be pushing hard for an equalizer over the last 20+ minutes of the match. The Union also used their final substitution to bring on 18 year old midfielder Jack McInerny in place of midfielder Justin Mapp.

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Still Scoreless Through 65th Minute

Philadelphia removed forward Alejandro Moreno and replaced him with forward Shea Salinas in their own effort to create offense, but San Jose has generally been controlling the ball and pushing forward midway through the 2nd half. But despite improved midfield play no strong scoring chances have yet been created. This is mostly due to a lack of precise passing and lots of possession exchange in the midfield that has really disrupted the flow of the game.

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Eduardo and Arturo Alvarez Enter Game For 2nd Half

Frank Yallop, obviously displeased with San Jose’s offense, brought on forward Eduardo and midfielder Arturo Alvarez in place of midfielders Joey Gjertsen and Khari Stephenson. Stephenson may still be slowed by the injury he suffered a week and a half ago. Rather than play with three forwards Geovanni will probably take Stephenson’s place as an attacking midfielders.

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Quakes, Union Tied 0-0 At Halftime

In a game marked by defensive dominance San Jose and Philadelphia entered the locker rooms at halftime deadlocked at 0-0. Philadelphia has generally seen the better of play, and an Alejandro Moreno shot off a Sebastien Le Toux pass into the area has been the best scoring chance for both teams. But Jon Busch has been solid behind goal.

With Danny Mwanga of the Union and Eduardo of the Earthquakes starting the game on the bench a defensive start is perhaps not surprising. Frank Yallop deployed Geovanni as a second striker alongside Chris Wondolowski, but the Brazilian has only managed two shots so far.

Both teams will want to find a way to jump start their offense after the break, and any substitutions and formation changes will be important in deciding the ultimately outcome.

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Earthquakes Look To Continue Playoff Push Against Philadelphia

The Earthquakes find themselves perhaps in the best position they’ve been in all season.  They are currently holding the final playoff spot in the standings, with enough games in hand to climb higher. They have a relatively friendly schedule the rest of the way with games against bottom dwellers from the Eastern Conference. And due to player signings and injury recoveries, they currently boast the best set of attacking players since being reformed as an expansion team.

That also means that for the first time there may actually be some pressure to perform and win games. None of the above will mean anything if San Jose does not capitalize on this opportunity by making the playoffs. The push continues with a midweek game against the Philadelphia Union.

The Quakes defeated Philadelphia on the road by a score of 2-1, though San Jose was perhaps lucky to emerge with three points in a game that the Union generally controlled throughout. But that San Jose team is very different from the team that will take the field Wednesday. That team could not call upon the services of Geovanni, Eduardo or Khari Stephenson, and those three players will be expected to spearhead the Earthquake attack.

Stephenson sat out San Jose’s 0-0 tie with FC Dallas with an ankle injury sustained against Houston, but he is expected to return to his attacking midfield role tonight. Eduardo should be joining him after making his return from a series of injuries as a substitute last Saturday. It was only 15 minutes, but Eduardo looked like a dangerous target man during his brief cameo, and he should have the midfield talent to get him the ball.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, has been playing well lately behind the continued excellent form of MVP candidate Sebastien Le Toux. But it’s possible that the Union will be without standout rookie Danny Mwanga, who injured his shoulder last weekend.  He made the trip to San Jose but is officially listed as questionable. Quake fans probably remember how dangerous he looked last time and his absence would be a major blow for Philadelphia’s attack.

Keys to the game


Shut down Le Toux – Le Toux is statistically the most productive attacking player in MLS.  With the third most goals and second most assists in the league he’s easily the most dangerous player for the Union. San Jose has been unable to find a dedicated defensive midfielder. Sam Cronin, Jason Hernandez and Brandon McDonald have all spent time at the position. Whichever player takes on the role must control Le Toux

Offensive cohesion
– The San Jose offense, for perhaps the first time, is indisputably talented.  Geovanni, Stephenson, Eduardo and Bobby Convey all have pace and/or creativity. What they don’t have is experience playing together. A playoff chase is a difficult time to try to develop chemistry and pitch awareness, but San Jose has no other choice. If they can develop it quickly San Jose could become a very dangerous squad.

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