San Jose Earthquakes Win Carolina Challenge Cup with 2-1 Victory
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- San Jose Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop just wanted his team to be competitive in the fifth annual Carolina Challenge Cup. Wednesday night, he got a good bit more than that from his club as San Jose defeated the USL First Division's Charleston Battery 2-1 at Blackbaud Stadium.
Ramiro Corrales scored a goal and added an assist as San Jose clinched the Challenge Cup championship -- with one match still to play. With wins against Toronto FC (1-0) in the opening round of the tournament last Saturday night and against the Battery on Wednesday, the Quakes have an unassailable six points heading into the final match of the round-robin tournament Saturday night against New York. The Battery will take on Toronto FC at 6 p.m. in the first game of the doubleheader.
It's the second time San Jose has won the event, capturing the tournament before the start of the 2005 season.
"It's nice to win the tournament, but at the same time we realize it's just the preseason," Yallop said. "We wanted to come out here and play well. It was very encouraging to win it. I thought our guys showed a lot of spirit not only tonight, but Saturday night against Toronto.
"But we have to put it into perspective. Not everyone was here for all the teams and there was really nothing at stake. But for us this was a great chance to build team chemistry and put in the foundation that we can win."
The two teams battled 40 mph winds in the first half and a torrential rainstorm in the second half.
"The conditions were pretty bad, but I thought we were able to do some good things under poor conditions," Yallop said. "The conditions certainly made it tough for both teams."
San Jose smothered Charleston's attack allowing a total of just four shots on goal and only two quality scoring chances throughout the match.
"From day one I thought we would be organized and difficult to break down," Yallop said. "When we do the right things in the back we're going to be a hard team to play against."
Playing into a stiff wind in the first half, the Battery still took a 1-0 lead on Darren Spicer's goal in the fifth minute off a corner kick. Midfielder Pato Aguilera served the ball into the six-yard box from a corner kick. San Jose 'keeper Preston Burpo tried to punch the ball out, but failed to clear the ball as it bounced right onto the foot of Spicer. Spicer blasted the shot into the open net for the score.
"The wind had a lot to do with the goal," said Charleston coach Mike Anhaeuser. "It was a nightmare out there for both 'keepers."
San Jose tied the game at 1-1 on Corrales' goal in the 26th minute. After a build-up from the midfield line, midfielder Ned Grabavoy slotted a ball behind the Battery defense to Corrales. Corrales took one dribbled into the penalty area and blasted a shot past Charleston 'keeper Keith Wiggans for the score.
"Ramiro is a really good footballer," Yallop said. "He's done very well for us in the middle of the field."
San Jose nearly scored again in the 30th minute when the Earthquakes took advantage of the windy conditions. Defender Ryan Cochrane played a long ball over the heads of the Charleston defenders to striker Kei Kamara. Kamara raced past the Battery defenders to get to the loose ball and ripped a hard shot that Wiggans was able to chest to the ground. However, Wiggans didn't control the ball and it rolled slowly toward the empty net. Wiggans scrambled to his feet and stopped the ball just before it crossed the goal line.
San Jose took a 2-1 lead on Kamara's goal in the 70th minute. As the rain came pouring down, Corrales played a beautiful through ball to Kamara. He took two touches as Wiggans came storming out of the goal to challenge, then the San Jose striker managed to side-step Wiggans just inside the 18-yard box and slotted the ball into the goal for the score.
"Kei is a really good young player," Yallop said. "He's still learning the game. He has all the attributes to play really well at this level. We just have to make sure we bring him along correctly and make sure we're not putting too much pressure on him."
San Jose Earthquakes 2
Charleston Battery 1
Darren Spicer 5 minute (Charleston Battery)
Ramiro Corrales 26 minute (San Jose)
Kei Kamara 70 minute (San Jose)
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