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San Jose still stuck in the cellar after 2-2 tie in Dallas

If San Jose is going to challenge for a playoff spot this season, they’ll have to start by climbing out of the MLS cellar, and Sunday’s match had the 15th place Earthquakes battling 14th place FC Dallas. Despite a poor first half, San Jose looked on the verge of their first road win of the year. Arturo Alvarez put the Earthquakes ahead in the 82nd minute with a fine individual effort, only to see a defensive breakdown lead to Kenny Cooper’s 87th minute goal lifting FC Dallas to a 2-2 tie. 

“Obviously, before the game, to think of getting points on the road is always a positive but being 2-1 up with five minutes left, it feels like we lost," San Jose coach Frank Yallop said.

With a roster depleted by injuries and national team duty, San Jose made four changes in the side that beat Salt Lake the previous weekend. The backline remained intact, but Shea Salinas, Brandon McDonald, and Aaron Pitchkolan joined Arturo Alvarez in midfield, while Pablo Campos got the nod at forward alongside Ryan Johnson. Darren Huckerby did suit up, but did not see action until second half stoppage time, when he almost scored a decisive goal.

Dallas, meanwhile, fielded the same team that surprised Chicago 3-0 at Toyota Park last week, save for Marcelo Saragosa replacing Daniel Torres on defense.

The Hoops controlled the run of play in the first half, and opened the scoring in the 30th minute. Jeff Cunningham beat Michael Zaher on a run down the right wing and rolled a centering pass to David Ferreira, unmarked seven years in front of goal. Ferreira hit it first time, giving goalkeeper Joe Cannon no chance to stop his shot.

The Earthquakes, meanwhile, didn’t manage a “shot” until the 40th minute, when Arturo Alvarez hooked a free kick into the penalty area that sailed just over the head of Pablo Campos and bounced on goal. Dallas ‘keeper Ray Burse easily pushed it away.

Quincy Amarikwa in for Campos in the 55th minute to breathe some life into the Earthquakes’ attack, but it was the Dallas defense that gifted San Jose their first goal.

35 yards from goal, Shea Salinas sent a free kick towards the penalty spot. Dallas’ Pablo Ricchetti got to the ball first, and his glancing header wound up in the back of his own net to knot the game at 1-1.

Dallas almost regained the lead in the 64th minute. David Ferreira played a long ball to Jeff Cunningham racing up the middle. Cunningham had a step on the San Jose defense, but Joe Cannon came out to meet Cunningham near the top of the penalty area just as the Dallas forward played the ball, and Cannon was able to snuff out the shot.

Arturo Alvarez then put San Jose ahead with less than 10 minutes left in regulation time. Standing on the ball, facing two defenders at the top of the penalty area, Alvarez broke left, beating them both before slamming a fifteen yarder past  Dallas ‘keeper Ray Burse.

"In the last two games (Alvarez) has scored unbelievable goals," Yallop said. "I don’t know if you saw the goal he scored against Real Salt Lake but it was better than that one (today’s goal). That’s Arturo. He is so talented and has spectacular stuff and it came at the right time for us."

But the Earthquakes could not hang on to their slim lead.

In then 87th minute, Dallas’ Anthony Wallace sent a long pass up the left side to Andre Rocha, who flicked it forward to Brek Shea. Shea’s one touch pass found Kenny Cooper inside the arc and with a clear path to goal. Joe Cannon came out to challenge Cooper, but Cooper dribbled around the Earthquakes’ net minder and did not miss the open goal.

Darren Huckerby came on for Salinas in stoppage time, and almost made the difference in the closing seconds. A Joe Cannon goal kick was headed forward by Ryan Johnson. Huckerby ran onto to the ball inside the Dallas penalty area, only to hit his half volley over the cross bar from 15 yards out.

"We had another opportunity late in the game to score with Darren (Huckerby) on a break," Yallop said. "We’re upbeat with the point we got but disappointed we didn’t get three. I think its kind of the story of our season at this point, so it’s real frustrating but the guys gave everything they had so that’s always a positive from a coach’s side of things.”

The tie gives San Jose their first point on the road in six matches so far this season, but the Earthquakes remain stuck in the MLS cellar with nine points through 12 games. San Jose now travels to Seattle to face the expansion Sounders next Saturday.

"1-0 down at halftime and our guys responded," Yallop said. "We had a good shot. I’m being positive, go score, go win. We have been a little afraid to go and do that but I think we did a great job today and it was good that we come away with something. We got to build on it, it’s disappointing but we look forward to our next game against Seattle.”

• • •

San Jose Earthquakes (2-7-3) vs. FC Dallas (2-6-4)
June 7, 2009 – Pizza Hut Park
Attendance: 5,724

Scoring Summary: DAL -- David Ferreira (Jeff Cunningham, Dax McCarty) 29; SJ – Own Goal (Pablo Ricchetti) 60; SJ – Arturo Alvarez (unassisted) 82; DAL – Kenny Cooper (Brek Shea, Andre Rocha) 87.

Misconduct Summary: DAL – Marcelo Saragosa (caution) 16; SJ – Pablo Campos (caution) 25; DAL – Drew Moor (caution) 70.
San Jose Earthquakes – Joe Cannon, Chris Leitch, Jason Hernandez, Nick Garcia, Mike Zaher, Shea Salinas (Darren Huckerby 90), Aaron Pitchkolan, Brian McDonald, Arturo Alvarez, Ryan Johnson, Pablo Campos (Quincy Amarikwa 55).

Statistics:  Shots 8; Shots on Goal 3; Saves 5; Fouls 15; Offsides 1; Corner Kicks 4.

FC Dallas : --  Ray Burse, Marcelo Saragosa (Eric Avila 84), Drew Moor, Pablo Richetti, Anthony Wallace, Alvaro Sanchez (Andre Rocha 62), Jeff Cunningham (Brek Shea 69), Dax McCarty, Dave van den Bergh, Kenny Cooper, David Ferreira.

Statistics:  Shots 13; Shots on Goal 7; Saves 2; Fouls 10; Offsides 2; Corner Kicks 4.