San Jose Earthquake rookie Ike Opara gave his team an early 1-0 lead with his third goal of the season. DC United scored the equalizer in the second half and earned a 1-1 draw. Photo: Joe Nuxoll, centerlinesoccer.com
Center Line Soccer's complete coverage includes a photo gallery of the match and post game audio interviews with coaches and players.
(Santa Clara) Hoping to recall their winning ways of 2000-05, San Jose sported blue jerseys Saturday night for the first time since their return to MLS, but their performance bore little resemblance to those glory days of old. In a game where both sides struggled to find any offensive rhythm, Ike Opara's first half goal was answered by a second half strike by Andy Najar as San Jose and D.C. United settled for a 1-1 tie.
San Jose's winless streak is now at five games, and the Earthquakes have slipped into a tie for the last playoff spot with Toronto, having earned 19 points from their 5-4-4 record.
D.C. United, wearing their usual white and black road kit, reminded no one of the team that dominated in the league's early years. With the draw, D.C. now sits tied with Philadelphia and Chivas USA at the bottom of the table with 11 points.
It was no surprise that the game was not an offensive showcase; the Earthquakes started the night with a scoring drought of 191 minutes and counting, while D.C. had been shut out in 9 of their 13 games this season.
San Jose, starting the same line up that earned a point on the road in Salt Lake last week, came out on their front foot, and should have scored more than once in the opening 45 minutes.
Ryan Johnson thought he had put San Jose ahead when he headed home Brandon McDonald's cross in the 7th minute, only to be ruled offside.
At the quarter hour mark, when D.C.'s Stephen King misplayed the ball near the top of the penalty area, Steve Cronin pounced, letting fly from 25 yards. United goalkeeper Troy Perkins did well to parry Cronin's shot over the top.
San Jose got their goal seconds later, when a Bobby Convey corner kick from the right side fell to Ike Opara 12 yards from goal, and the rookie defender pounded a right footed shot inside the left post for his third goal of the year.
The Earthquakes almost hit the net again in the 27th minute when Steve Beitashour's cross was punched away by Perkins, but only as far as Bobby Convey, 15 yards from goal. But Convey's shot missed wide right.
It was 82 degerees with not a cloud in the sky at kickoff, and San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch spent the first half squinting into the setting sun, waiting for a threat from the DC offense that never came. Besides a couple harmless shots from long range, the closest the visitors came to scoring was in the 40th minute, when Dejan Jakovic headed a corner kick towards goal, only to have Bobby Convey head it clear inside the six yard box.
Jaime Moreno came in at the half for Adam Cristman, adding some spark to the D.C. attack as United targeted right back Jason Hernandez throughout the second period.
DC tied the match in the 54th minute when Stephen King fought off an Opara challenge just inside the penalty area, then wheeled and crossed for Andy Najar, who blasted home a volley from eight yards out. It was the second goal of the year for the 17 year old midfielder.
The Earthquakes tried to get some offensive help off the bench, bringing on Arturo Alvarez and Cornell Glen for Steve Beitashour and Ryan Johnson, but for the next half hour the best San Jose could muster was a 35 yard effort from Glen hit straight at the D.C. goalkeeper.
D.C.'s Chris Pontius and Santino Quaranta also tested Jon Busch from distance during that time, but the Earthquakes goalkeeper handed those shots with relative ease.
Omar Jasseh came on for Chris Wondolowski in the 86th minute, and almost played the hero for San Jose in the closing moments. With two minutes left in regulation time, Bobby Convey released Alvarez down the left side, and Alvarez drilled a cross that found Jasseh at the far post, 10 yards from goal. But the teenager was denied the game winner as Perkins pushed his shot away.
When the Earthquakes wore blue from 2000-05, they posted a 75-56-47 mark, and put 2 MLS Cups and a Supporters Shield in their trophy case. But that was a long time ago. Today, the Earthquakes have taken just three points from their last five matches, as they travel to Philadelphia to face the Union next Saturday.
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San Jose Earthquakes (5-4-4) vs. D.C. United (3-9-2)
July 3, 2010 -- Buck Shaw Stadium
Scoring Summary: SJ -- Ike Opara (unassisted) 16; DC -- Andy Najar (Stephen King) 54.
Misconduct Summary: None.
San Jose Earthquakes -- Jon Busch, Ramiro Corrales, Bobby Burling, Ike Opara, Jason Hernandez, Bobby Convey, Brandon McDonald, Sam Cronin, Steven Beitashour (Arturo Alvarez 65), Ryan Johnson (Cornell Glen 73), Chris Wondolowski (Omar Jasseh 86).
Statistics: Shots: 10; Shots on Goal: 5; Fouls: 7; Offsides: 1; Corners: 7.
D.C. United -- Troy Perkins, Devon McTavish, Dejan Jakovic, Juan Manuel Pena, Jordan Graye, Andy Najar (Thabiso Khumalo 90), Stephen King, Clyde Simms, Chris Pontius, Adam Cristman (Jaime Moreno 45), Santino Quaranta (Danny Allsopp 92+).
Statistics: Shots: 15; Shots on Goal: 7; Fouls: 6; Offsides: 4; Corners: 6.