SANTA CLARA - With a berth in the playoffs a remote proposition, it was Ramiro Corrales Day at sold-out Buck Shaw Stadium Saturday afternoon as the San Jose Earthquakes celebrated a 2-1 victory over FC Dallas and sent the Quakes longtime captain into retirement a winner.
Corrales started for the Earthquakes, the 228th start for San Jose in a career that began in the 1996 inaugural season of MLS, and left the field to a standing ovation in the 71th minute with the Quakes leading 2-0 and well in charge of the game.
Walter Martinez scored in the first half and Chris Wondolowski in the second half to earn the Earthquakes (14-11-9) the victory in their last game of the regular season. Dallas (11-12-11) pulled one back in the 90th minute through Stephen Keel, but it was not enough to deny San Jose its 11th home win of the season.
The Earthquakes finish their 2013 MLS regular season with 51 points, the third most in franchise history, but will miss the MLS Cup playoffs. Even if San Jose finishes tied for fifth in the conference after all games are completed, it will lose the tiebreaker of total wins to the Seattle Sounders and goals scored to the Colorado Rapids and fall outside of the Western Conference top-five.
San Jose started the game strong, knowing it needed at least 13 goals scored to have any chance of making the postseason, but like most of the season, scoring chances were hard to come by. Instead, it was the visitors that looked more likely to score over the first quarter hour of the match.
FC Dallas appeared to take the lead in the 17th minute when Kenny Cooper knocked a ball off the inside of the post from close range, but the goal was waved off on an offside call. The Hoops had a glorious chance to score in the 21st minute Andrew Jacobsen; instead, the Gunn High School and U.C. Berkeley product conspired to send his open shot from 15 yards wide of the target.
The Earthquakes took a fortuitous 1-0 lead in the 27t minute through seldom-used Martinez. After collecting the ball on the left flank, the Honduran midfielder tried to thread a pass into the area for Steven Lenhart. The bruising Quakes forward couldn't connect to the pass, but neither could his marker, and the ball slipped past goalkeeper Chris Seitz into the goal.
The visitors came out of halftime with more verve on offense, but goalkeeper David Bingham, making his first MLS start of the season, kept the Quakes in the lead. In the 48th minute, Brazilian set-piece specialist Michel blasted a free kick on goal, but Bingham dove to his right to turn the ball away from the target. Bingham was there again in the 50th minute to track down a Copper chipped shot before it could cross the goal line.
San Jose doubled its lead in the 57th minute after a hustle play from Shea Salinas collapsed the Dallas defense into its own area. With the ball at his feet, Salinas drove into the area only to have the ball poked away near the penalty spot. Lenhart was able to redirect the errant ball to Wondolowski ghosting in on the right side, and the Quakes leading scorer roofed a shot over Seitz to take his season total to 11 and San Jose's lead to 2-0.
To a standing ovation in the 71th minute, Corrales left the field, carried by his teammates in celebration, as the MLS Original made way for his protégé Rafael Baca. Corrales finishes his San Jose career with club records for games played (250), starts (228) and minutes played (20,187) in 12 seasons.
The Earthquakes nearly saw their lead cut in half in the 78th minute, but Bingham was again up to the task of keeping the scoreline at 2-0. After a goal mouth scramble saw a poor clearance fall to the feet of Blas Perez at the edge of the area, the Panamanian striker rocketed a shot destined for the upper corner of the goal, but the Quakes back-up ‘keeper leapt to his left to make a spectacular save.
Bingham had his clean sheet bid spoiled in the 90th minute when second half substitute Keel created enough space in the area to head home a consolation goal for Dallas. With the goal, the Earthquakes had their shutout streak end at 431 minutes, the second-longest streak in club history.
The final whistle came minutes later, and the appreciative Buck Shaw Stadium crowd saluted their team. The Earthquakes finished the season with 51 points, the third most in club history, but failed to qualify for the MLS postseason due to a lack of goals scored.