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Weaver’s goal lifts San Jose to 3-2 win over Houston

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090328-quakes-dynamo-jn15.JPGHouston's Wade Barrett lunges in an attempt to block this shot from San Jose's Darren Huckerby. Photo by Joe Nuxoll, centerlinesoccer.com.

Center Line Soccer's complete coverage includes:
- a match photo gallery
- Post-game video interviews with San Jose's Kelly Gray and goal scorers Ryan Johnson, Arturo Alvarez, and Cam Weaver
- Post-game audio from Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop and goalkeeper Joe Cannon as well as Houston defender Richard Mulrooney

(Santa Clara)  Cam Weaver’s goal in the 44th minute capped a wild first half and proved to be the difference as the San Jose Earthquakes earned their first win of the 2009 season, 3-2 over the Houston Dynamo Saturday night at Buck Shaw Stadium.

All the scoring came in the last fifteen minutes of the first half. San Jose surged to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals by Ryan Johnson and Arturo Alvarez scored three minutes apart, only to see Houston tie the game in the next three minutes through goals by Chris Wondolowski and Brad Davis, setting the stage for Weaver’s heroics.

“Give Cam a lot of credit,” San Jose goalkeeper Joe Cannon said. “After last week (when Weaver hit the cross bar from close range in a frustrating 1-0 loss to New England) he comes in tonight, and keeps plugging away, and gets the game-winning goal for us.”

“I liked that our guys didn’t lose focus from last week,” Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop said. “We worked hard on our finishing, all types of finishes. The three goals we got were decent goals.”

The opening half hour of the game looked like a replay of the season opener. Once again, San Jose was facing a diminished opponent, as Houston was missing forwards Brian Ching (US National Team duty) and Kei Kamara (suspension), as well as center back Eddie Robinson (knee surgery). And once again, the Earthquakes created several chances without scoring any of them.

But that all changed in the 30th minute. Cam Weaver slid a pass through to Ryan Johnson, racing into the box from the right side. Pat Onstad came off his line to cut down the angle, but Johnson slipped a left footed shot past the Houston goalkeeper, nicking the left post on its way into goal.

In the 33rd minute, it was Arturo Alvarez doubling the Earthquake’s lead. After picking off a pass in midfield and carrying the ball forward, Alvarez cut in from the right wing and unleashed a left footed rocket from just inside the penalty area that beat Onstad cleanly inside the right post.

Earthquakes fans were still in mid-celebration when Houston’s comeback commenced. Stuart Holden burst down the right side in the 34th minute, and drilled a cross to Chris Wondolowski who slammed home a header from six yards out to put Houston on the scoreboard.

Two minutes later, Houston evened the score at 2-2 when Wondolowski teed up Brad Davis for a stunning left-footed bomb from 25 yards out.

Houston had some good chances to take the lead, but San Jose goalkeeper Joe Cannon was up to the task, getting down to stop a Brad Davis shot in the 41st minute, and diving to his left  to knock away a Ricardo Clark long range effort in the 42nd.  

A minute before half time, Cam Weaver scored the decisive goal after a bit of luck. Chris Leitch tried a long range shot that hit Weaver near the penalty spot.  Weaver was quickest to react to the loose ball, pushing it past Pat Onstad for a 3-2 San Jose advantage that would hold up for the rest of the night.

“I haven’t seen anything like that in a long time,” Joe Cannon said of the first half. “It was open ended, and I don’t think that’s the game we want to play right now.

“I think the goal Cam got really helped,” Yallop said. “We come in at halftime and it’s 3-2. At 2-2, (Houston) has got their tails up and are ready to go. At 3-2, it’s a different story.

“The goal won the game, and it also changed the game,” Yallop continued. “I told our guys at halftime, let’s try to kill the game a bit, not go helter-skelter trying to get another one and concede a goal. I think we did a pretty good job of that. They had a couple sniffs (at goal) in the second half, but so did we.”

Houston did push for an equalizer, but came up empty. In the 59th minute, Brian Mullan broke in from the left side for the Dynamo, letting fly from the top of the box and missing wide left. In the 61st minute, it was Mullan again, dribbling in on net and forcing Joe Cannon to come off his line to stop him from six yards out.

The Earthquakes brought on Quincy Amarikwa for Ryan Johnson midway through the second half, and the rookie forward almost got on the score sheet in the 77th minute, forcing Onstad to kick save his shot from 10 yards out.

Houston’s best chance for a late equalizer came in the 85th minute. Brad Davis hooked in a corner kick to Ricardo Clark making a near post run, but Clark’s header went wide right.

“I think our team defending (has to improve),” Yallop said afterwards. “In the two goals (Houston scored) they had somebody run with the ball for about 30 or 40 yards unopposed, and I told our guys we can’t allow that to happen. We did a way better job in the second half. We’re still learning as a team."

“I’m very happy with scoring three goals at home and getting three points,” Yallop said. “It could’ve gone either way. It was an early season game where we still looked a bit disjointed at times as a unit, but three point is three points, and I feel good about that.”

The Earthquakes now go on the road to face the Kansas City Wizards next Sunday.

 • • •

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Houston Dynamo
March 28, 2009 – Buck Shaw Stadium
Attendance: 9,177

Scoring Summary: SJ – Ryan Johnson (Cam Weaver, Arturo Alvarez) 30; SJ – Arturo Alvarez (unassisted) 33; HOU – Chris Wondolowski (Stuart Holden) 34; HOU – Brad Davis (Chris Wondolowski) 36; SJ – Cam Weaver (Darren Huckerby, Chris Leitch) 44.

Misconduct Summary:  HOU – Geoff Cameron (caution) 23; SJ – Ramiro Corrales (caution) 66, HOU – Bobby Boswell (caution) 70; HOU – Ricardo Clark (caution) 93+.

San Jose Earthquakes -- Joe Cannon, Chris Leitch, Nick Garcia, Kelly Gray, Eric Denton, Darren Huckerby (Shea Salinas) 70, Ramiro Corrales, Bobby Convey, Arturo Alvarez, Ryan Johnson (Quincy Amarikwa 65), Cam Weaver (Pablo Campos 91+).

Statistics:  Shots 12; Shots on Goal 6; Saves 5; Fouls 11; Offsides 2; Corner Kicks 5.

Houston Dynamo: -- Pat Onstad, Richard Mulrooney, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Wade Barrett (Danny Cruz 79), Stuart Holden, Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis, Corey Ashe (Julius James 75), Brian Mullan, Chris Wondolowski.

Statistics:  Shots 16; Shots on Goal 7; Saves 3; Fouls 11; Offsides 4; Corner Kicks 5.