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Points Man: Ronald Cerritos, the Earthquakes' all-time leading scorer, will try to help San Jose advance its first-place lead over L.A. and Dallas.

Great Shakes


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THE SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES are sitting all alone atop the Major League Soccer table and were the first MLS team to clinch a playoff spot. Pending post-deadline results, goalkeeper Pat Onstad is tied for the league lead in both goals against average and shutouts. The Quakes have the fewest losses in MLS as well as the fewest goals allowed. That is downright amazing, as coach Dominic Kinnear had to rebuild almost the entire team from scratch during the off-season. He is undoubtedly the prime candidate for coach of the year, as the team now has the best record in franchise history. The Quakes' last two home games drew crowds of 24,112 and 22,311, respectively, and the team hasn't lost a match at home all season.

At Spartan Stadium, the crowd environment is pure rock & roll, and players from every other team in the league have said over the years that the crowd is a prime factor in why they hate playing here. Due to Spartan's intimate setting, the fans are just on top of the players, constantly screaming and yelling. Three of the top five games in MLS history have taken place at Spartan, and the crowd was absolutely a major factor in all of those battles.

The Quakes are truly "a team" these days, as 13 different players on the squad have scored goals. There are no rock-star players, no head cases and no prima donnas. Everyone plays together as a team, and the players all get along with each other, on and off the field. Despite the constant and obvious neglect by the league—as well as owner Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), which pays much more attention to its flagship teams, Los Angeles and New York—San Jose just keeps on winning. Of course, L.A. and New York aren't winning. If it weren't for Landon Donovan, L.A. would probably be near the cellar, and New York is in a complete shambles. The winning Quakes are starting to make AEG look like a bunch of bumbling dimwits. AEG has enough money to build 50 soccer stadiums. It should build one here, for crying out loud.

What's even more amazing is that the Quakes have managed to accomplish all this despite the looming uncertainty of what the heck is going to happen with the team's future. That is, AEG has wanted to dump this team for a few years now. Rumors of it moving the club have been rampant, to say the least. The uncertainty is absolutely a big part of why Donovan left. But the Quakes just keep playing winning soccer despite it all. Tonight, the Quakes host Chicago and then, on Saturday, Dallas rolls into town. Both will be hard-fought matches with the crowd noise cranked up to 11.

Earthquakes vs. Chicago Fire, Wednesday (Sept. 21) at 7:30pm; Earthquakes vs. FC Dallas, Saturday (Sept. 24) at 7pm. Both games at San Jose Spartan Stadium. Tickets are $13$45. (408.985.GOAL)

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From the September 21-27, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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