Preview: Colorado at San Jose, Oct. 9

Rapids head back west with a chance to secure a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs COLORADO RAPIDS
BUCK SHAW STADIUM, Santa Clara, Calif.
Oct. 9, 2013 (WEEK 33, MLS Game #300)
8:30 p.m. PT  (Altitude TV)

Away Game Viewing Party: The Armoury (Denver)

A crucial match in the playoff positioning in the Western Conference is ahead at midweek as the San Jose Earthquakes play host to the Colorado Rapids at Buck Shaw Stadium. The Earthquakes return to action with their postseason dreams still alive, after a last-gasp 1-0 win at Chivas USA in their last match. The Rapids could clinch a playoff berth with a win and the right combination of other results, coming off an impressive 5-1 home win vs. Seattle last weekend.

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REFEREE: Allen Chapman. AR1 (bench): Anthony Vasoli; AR2 (opposite): Mike Rottersman; 4th: Alejandro Mariscal
MLS Career: 32 games; FC/gm: 21.3; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 6; pens: 7

DISABLED LIST: SJ: Ty Harden, Peter McGlynn … COL: Davy Armstrong (season-ending injury); Kory Kindle (season-ending injury)
SUSPENDED: SJ: Steven Lenhart (through Oct. 9)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: SJ: Clarence Goodson, Alan Gordon … COL: Shane O’Neill
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: SJ: Rafael Baca, Victor Bernardez, Sam Cronin, Steven Lenhart, Chris Wondolowski … COL: Dillon Powers, Hendry Thomas
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: SJ: Victor Bernardez, Marvin Chavez (Honduras) … COL: Gabriel Torres (Panama); Deshorn Brown (Jamaica)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (53 meetings): Rapids 18 wins (2 shootout), 69 goals …Earthquakes 25 wins (1 shootout), 82 goals … Ties 10
AT SAN JOSE (26 meetings): Earthquakes 12 wins (1 shootout), 47 goals … Rapids 8 wins (1 shootout), 35 goals … Ties 6

2013 (MLS):
5/18: SJ 1, COL 1 (Chavez 78 – Sturgis 26)
6/15: COL 1, SJ 2 (Sturgis 67 – Lenhart 11, Cronin 52)

• The teams are meeting for the third time this season. Sam Cronin’s second-half goal gave the Earthquakes a 2-1 victory June 15 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Mark Watson’s first game in charge of the club. The teams played to a 1-1 draw May 18 at Buck Shaw Stadium, when Marvín Chavez scored in the 78th minute for San Jose, answering a first-half Rapids goal from Nathan Sturgis.

• The Rapids last defeated San Jose in the first meeting in the 2011 season. The Quakes have won four of the six meetings since, with two draws, including all three matches last season.

• The teams met for the Eastern Conference Championship in 2010, the Rapids winning 1-0 in Commerce City.

• Coaches record: Mark Watson vs. COL: P1 W1 L0 T0 … Oscar Pareja vs. SJ: P4 W0 L4 T1

LAST MEETING (MLS)

• The Earthquakes took the lead in the 11th minute. Alan Gordon flicked on a header out of the midfield from a Justin Morrow long ball and Steven Lenhart corraled it, holding up just in front of the area before blasting the ball past Rapids ‘keeper Clint Irwin’s fingertips.

Highlights: COL 1, SJ 2

• The home side then went down a man seven minutes later when Atiba Harris came in on a late brutal tackle on San Jose's Alan Gordon, and referee Jorge Gonzalez showed a straight red card.

• The Quakes doubled their lead seven minutes after the break. Rafael Baca’s looping through ball from midfield again broke down the Rapids’ back line, with a wide-open Sam Cronin running in alone on goal to hammer home a rising shot.

• The Rapids pulled a goal back in the 67th minute when Brian Mullan, freed on the right by Martin Rivero, whipped in a cross that found Nathan Sturgis open for a simple header from close range.

• COLORADO RAPIDS (4-1-2-3): Clint Irwin - Brian Mullan, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Christopher Klute (Anthony Wallace 60) - Hendry Thomas - Nathan Sturgis, Dillon Powers (Martin Rivero 46) - Atiba Harris (sent off 18), Edson Buddle, Deshorn Brown (Jaime Castrillon 65).

• SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-4-2): Jon Busch - Steven Beitashour, Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow, Nana Attakora - Chris Wondolowski, Sam Cronin, Rafael Baca, Walter Martinez (Shea Salinas 86) - Alan Gordon (Mehdi Ballouchy 69), Steven Lenhart.

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES

The San Jose Earthquakes return to action after a week off, winning a second consecutive match last time out, a late 1-0 win against Chivas USA on Sept. 29 at StubHub Center. The Quakes are in sixth place in the Western Conference with 44 points from 31 matches.

LAST MATCH

• The Earthquakes were a man down after the 81st minute after Steven Lenhart received a second yellow card following a collision with Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy in front of goal.

• The game's only goal came in the 87th minute. A seemingly harmless shot by Alan Gordon was mishandled by Kennedy and Chris Wondolowski raced in to tuck the rebound into the back of the net.

Highlights: CHV 0, SJ 1

• Quakes interim head coach Mark Watson made one change to the team that defeated Real Salt Lake 2-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Clarence Goodson came into the back four for Jason Hernandez.

• SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-4-2): Jon Busch - Steven Beitashour, Jason Hernandez, Victor Bernardez, Jordan Stewart - Cordell Cato (Walter Martinez 89), Sam Cronin, Rafael Baca (Alan Gordon 75), Shea Salinas (Marvin Chavez 70) - Chris Wondolowski, Steven Lenhart (ejected 81).

TEAM NEWS

• The Earthquakes won their second consecutive match, one shy of their season-long winning streak (July 13-Aug. 3). They extended their overall undefeated run to four games, matching their season-long.

• “We had the mindset going in the game that we needed to win,” Quakes interim head coach Mark Watson said. “But it’s not like we threw everything forward from the first minute. We needed to be smart about it. . . . Once we went down a player, we had to be even a little bit more [careful] in terms of not letting them score a goal and still give ourselves a chance to win the game, even if it was in injury time.”

• It was also a third shutout in the last four matches for the Quakes, who have allowed just a single goal over that span. The Quakes have recorded six shutouts in the last 11 games.

• “Defensively we were solid. We didn’t give them too many opportunities to score. [Goalkeeper Jon] Busch played well. We were really organized and happy with another clean sheet,” said fullback Steven Beitashour.

• Said Chris Wondolowski: “With these games, especially ones that you need to win, you don’t know if those chances are going to come in the first minute or the 90th minute. So you just have to stay the course and just keep plugging away. I think that’s something we’re pretty good at.”

• Wondolowski scored his first goal since Aug. 18 in netting the game’s only marker. Wondolowski has scored four goals in nine matches since returning to the Earthquakes after missing four matches while on U.S. national team duty.

• “It’s a team that’s getting the job done one game at a time right now,” Wondolowski said. “We still have a lot of work that we have to do. We’ve put ourselves in this position, but I can definitely tell you one thing: Every single guy, to a man, still has faith and belief that we’re going to do this. And we’re going to work every minute to do it.”

• Steven Lenhart was making a second consecutive start after being out of the starting lineup for back-to-back matches, but will miss the Colorado game through suspension.

• “Steven is someone who is very aggressive and I know that there’s going to be late challenges, but from what I know he’s always trying to play the ball,” said Watson. “Yet, when you go hard for the ball you’re going to be late sometimes. I know that he’s not a dirty player, but sometimes his energy and enthusiasm gets the better of him.”

COLORADO RAPIDS

The Colorado Rapids rolled to their most impressive victory of the season, defeating Seattle Sounders FC 5-1 on Saturday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids are in a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference with 48 points from 31 matches.

LAST MATCH

• The Rapids took the lead with the second-fastest goal in league history. A Gabriel Torres pass set rookie Deshorn Brown free along the left side of the penalty box, and he fired home past Sounders FC goalkeeper Michael Gspurning after just 15 seconds.

• It was 2-0 after 10 minutes, when a quick corner from Vicente Sanchez picked out Dillon Powers alone in front of the net for an easy header.

Highlights: COL 5, SEA 1

• Then in the 31st minute it was 3-0, when Brown raced onto a pass over the top of the Seattle back line and coolly slotted home from inside the box. The Rapids made it 4-0 in the 41st minute when Drew Moor got the final touch to another Sanchez corner kick.

• Sounders FC pulled a goal back in the 63rd minute when Eddie Johnson stroked home a shot from inside the area, but their fate was truly sealed 11 minutes from the end when Zach Scott was ejected on a second yellow card.

• Gabriel Torres completed a magical night for the hosts with a far post blast from the right side of the penalty area a minute into stoppage time.

• Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja made four changes to the team that suffered a 1-0 defeat by the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field. Nathan Sturgis, Vicente Sanchez, Deshorn Brown and Gabriel Torres all came into the side, in place of Atiba Harris, Nick LaBrocca, Martin Rivero and Edson Buddle.

• COLORADO RAPIDS (4-2-3-1): Clint Irwin - Marvell Wynne, Shane O'Neill, Drew Moor, Christopher Klute - Hendry Thomas, Nathan Sturgis (Atiba Harris 82) - Vicente Sanchez, Dillon Powers (Martin Rivero 59), Deshorn Brown (Nick LaBrocca 73) - Gabriel Torres.

TEAM NEWS

• The five goals scored by the Rapids matched the club record, set twice previously: in a 5-4 win vs. New York on Sept. 27, 2008, and a 5-2 win vs. New England on May 22, 2002.

• “We have preached all year, and talked about trying to get a good start, and trying to be the team that sets the pace and the tone, especially here in our complex,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja said. “Today was one of those nights that you always envision that you want to have. It’s rewarding to see this young group perform the way they did in front of the fans.”

• When Deshorn Brown scored after 15 seconds vs. Seattle, it was the second-quickest goal ever scored in MLS history. Dwayne De Rosario scored after 11 seconds for San Jose on Sept. 27, 2003; the previous second-fastest was also scored by the Rapids, Conor Casey scoring after 16 seconds on April 4, 2009.

• “I have to say that this is just the result of the training and the discipline that these guys are putting into practices,” Pareja said. “I saw them training this play over and over, and I knew they were going to get it someday, and today was the day.”

• Brown had the first two-goal game of his MLS career, and now leads all rookies with nine goals on the season.

• "It was great for him [to get the early goal], and Deshorn needed it as well. Now he’s called to the [Jamaican] national team,” said Pareja. “I know his mom was here tonight, and he wanted to come and give us this joy. I spoke to him during the week, and he knew how badly we needed this result. He did excellent at training during the week. Everything came together for Deshorn today.”

• Gabriel Torres finished off the match with his first MLS goal, earlier recording his first MLS assist on the opening goal, making his first start since Aug. 31.

• “The way we all went and celebrated with him even though it was 5-1 into injury time is a sign that we know that guy has got some goals in him and we want to encourage him and be sure he keeps his head up and keeps doing that, because that’s what we brought him in here to do. He’s been fantastic since he’s been here,” said defender Drew Moor.

• Rookie Dillon Powers scored a goal and added an assist in the same game for the third time in his first MLS season, in 30 appearances.

• “You can’t say enough about them. It’s not just Dillon and Deshorn, I still look at guys like Shane [O’Neill] and Klutie [Chris Klute], even Clint [Irwin], as first-year regulars here,” said Moor. “I look to them for inspiration and motivation because they’ve been absolutely fantastic.”

• Vicente Sanchez recorded a pair of assists, and now has four assists in five starts since coming to the Rapids.