There is little debate about the most shocking scoreline of the past weekend. The San Jose Earthquakes traveled to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and handed the Colorado Rapids a 2-0 defeat for the expansion team’s first win.
Maybe we should have seen it coming? After all, the Earthquakes pushed the Chicago Fire to the brink while the Colorado Rapids were extremely fortunate to escape Gillette Stadium with a win a week earlier. Most of us ignored that though and installed the Rapids as a heavy favorite.
Nobody told Ronnie O’Brien, who delivered a goal and assist to show why San Jose paid so much to get him.
SBI correspondents Kevin Matthiessen and Craig de Aragon took in the action and, let’s just say both came away surprised. Here are their takes on the match:
Earthquakes find goals and win to silence skeptics
By KEVIN MATTHIESSEN
"What are you doing?" my wife asked.
"What do you mean? I’m watching the game." I said.
"Do you realize you are kicking the air?" she said.
"Oh, uh, yeah I guess so." I said.
For most of the first half of the San Jose-Colorado game I thought I might score as many goals sitting here on my couch as they do. Sure their shots would be saved, hit the post, hit the crossbar, and be deflected, but my shots would surely be just as effective.
Yes, I’ve endured ridicule from my wife about my spastic exercises in futility but none like the Earthquakes have. They may not have been "listening" to any of it, but unless they’ve been sequestered like the O.J. jury, surely they’d heard plenty. And the pressure was on.
You see, you couldn’t go anywhere without enduring what’s been coming in fast and thick from pundits, fans, and enemies alike. The ‘Quakes have no offense. They have no proven goal scorers. They’ll bite the expansion bullet just like all the rest of ’em (’98 Fire notwithstanding). Heck they may even make history and have a record low goal output or goalless streak. And certainly they have been predicted to finish last in every season preview I’ve read.
Despite the abounding cynicism, Frank Yallop and a scant few Earthquakes fans knew they had some goals in them. Two games without a goal is no big deal. Still, like getting up on water skis or riding a bike without training wheels for the first time, you know you have the ability to do it, but you just never know until you actual do it. And the Earthquakes finally did do it.
They scored. They scored again. They won. They won on the road. Many a hump was overcome on this fine third game of the season. Though I don’t have the gumption to go through (or even find) all the stats for expansion clubs, I did dig up one stat and found that’s more than 75 days earlier than TFC was able to capture a road victory. And they only did it just that once last year to lowly Real Salt Lake.
Wolf-like Ronnie O’Brien pounced on his prey several times before critically wounding the Rapids with his first, and the Earthquakes first goal of the season. It was funny too, because after yet another goal called back by the officials for an apparent hand ball- it was hard to believe this one was actually a goal. There was hesitation to celebrate at my home and on the field.
The Earthquakes finally pierced the heart of the Rapids with a beautifully setup and executed play. My man of the match, Ned Grabavoy, sent a perfectly weighted through ball past Facundo Erpen to Kei Kamara. Like a panther, Kamara outpaced Erpen and forced him off the ball with brute force. He then sent a slow grounder past the onrushing Colorado ‘keeper and into the corner of the goal.
After that goal, Kamara curled up into the fetal position. Surely, he must have felt the weight of the (soccer) world lifted off his shoulders. And in a way, so did I. Maybe now there might be other things to talk about- like watch out for this stampede of animals they call "The Earthquakes".
Rapids fail to show up, raising new questions
By CRAIG de ARAGON
The Rapids played on Saturday night. They lost 2-0. End of essay. That was the extent of the action if you were a Rapids fan on Saturday night. What do you write when your team you root for forgets to show up? What do you write when the team you root for overlooks the opponent? What do you write when you broke more of a sweat cheering than the Joe Cannon did all game long?
It looks like the Rapids spent the week reading the blogs and papers, praising their recent success, instead of getting ready for San Jose. They man not even have known they were playing San Jose until they stepped on the field. It’s like they forgot they had a game on Saturday. Yes, the Rapids have been doing well, and I have drunk the Kool-Aid, saying there is something different about this year. But lest we forget, that good start is only that, and there are always different ways to look at things.
One perspective is that 2 weeks ago the Wizards gave up 2 soft goals and finally got what they deserved in the last few minutes to get the win. Then last week, New England playing in their second game of the week, in sloppy conditions, without 2 of their best offensive players, dominated the game, and only gave up a fluke goal to lose.
With that perspective, you could have seen this loss to San Jose coming. Not me, I was blinded by my optimism; I had gorged myself on what the Rapids were dishing out. I thought there was no way the Rapids weren’t winning by at least 2 goals. I mean San Jose hadn’t even scored a goal this year, and they’re an expansion team.
Normally, I’d let this kind of game/loss get to me, I’d join the bandwagon of those trying to fire the coach. I’d second guess line ups; I’d contemplate what kind of player the Rapids were missing. But this year, just like if I was in Las Vegas, I’m going to let it ride. I like this team. I think they have potential to make the playoffs and win a championship. I’m going to let this loss be a bad loss, and hope they got it out of their system for a while.
While the Earthquakes celebrated like they had won the MLS Cup, this game will always mean more to them than it will to the Rapids. It’s a blip on the radar screen. At the end of the year, when the Rapids hoist the Supporters Shield, no one will even remember this game, except for Quakes fans sitting at home watching the playoffs. Okay, good thing I’m not driving anywhere; I might have drank too much Kool-Aid.