Donovan's Hat Trick Enough for 'Quakes
September 20, 2003 - Major League Soccer (MLS) News Release
KANSAS CITY, MO - Forward Landon Donovan registered the first hat trick in San Jose Earthquakes history as his three goals paced his team to a 4-1 record-setting victory over the Kansas City Wizards (7-10-8, 29pts) at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday night in the fourth and final meeting between the two clubs this season. Donovan also set a new personal high for goals in a season reaching double digits (10) for the first time in his MLS career. The attendance of 30,308 at Saturday night's match set a new all-time Wizards attendance record surpassing the previous mark of 22,403 set earlier this season on Opening Day in a match against D.C. United on April 12.
In improving its League best away record to 7-2-4 and setting a new club mark for road wins in a single season, San Jose (13-5-7, 46pts) also established a new team record for points in a season (46), surpassing the 45 points registered in 2001 and 2002. The Western Conference leaders also move ahead in the race for the best record in MLS and the MLS Supporters' Shield as the Eastern Conference leading Chicago Fire (43 points) dropped a 2-0 result to the Dallas Burn on Saturday night.
The first half did not feature many goal scoring opportunities as both teams combined for just five shots on goal. The Earthquakes' only shot on goal of the half by Donovan resulted in a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute. San Jose had been consistently lurking on the counterattack and opened the scoring on a quick transition as a long ball from the left flank found Donovan up top and the U.S. National Team attacker took on backtracking defender Diego Gutierrez. Donovan faked a pass to his right where Ronnie Ekelund made a run into the box but instead he cut to his left, evaded Gutierrez and fired a left-footed shot from just inside the area which beat goalkeeper Tony Meola inside the right post.
The Wizards, who found it challenging to get behind the Earthquakes back line in the first half, saw their best opportunity of the opening period fall on the foot of Preki in the 33rd minute. MLS' all-time leading scorer fired a low, point-blank effort inside the box that was saved by goalkeeper Pat Onstad.
Kansas City Head Coach Bob Gansler brought on forward Davy Arnaud and attacking midfielder Francisco Gomez at the start of the second half. Preki attempted to set the tone just two minutes after the break when his dipping free kick was tipped over the bar by Onstad.
But just as the Wizards seemed to be increasing their attacking pressure, the Earthquakes doubled their lead in the 54th minute as defender Eddie Robinson headed home his first goal of the season. Rookie Todd Dunivant sent a corner kick from the right to teammate Richard Mulrooney at the right corner of the penalty area. Mulrooney sent a centering cross which found a wide open Robinson in the six-yard box and he freely nodded the ball past Meola to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.
Just five minutes later the Wizards cut the deficit in half when second-half substitute Arnaud pounced on a rebound for his third goal of the year. Wizards midfielder Chris Klein was unmarked on the right flank as he received a long ball in the attack. He penetrated the right side of the Earthquakes box and sent a left-footed shot which Onstad blocked but the rebound fell straight to Arnaud, who followed the play and easily slotted the ball home. It was the Wizards' first goal in the run of play in four games.
Two minutes after Arnaud's goal forward Wolde Harris had the opportunity to equalize as a cross from the right by Preki made it way through to the Jamaican international just outside the six-yard box. But Harris took an extra touch and was forced to use his left foot and curl a shot which missed the top left corner as it sailed over the bar.
Kansas City's missed opportunity loomed large when Donovan reestablished his team's two-goal lead with his second goal of the match in the 70th minute. He combined with strike partner Dwayne DeRosario inside the box and the Canadian international delivered his return pass across the goal mouth toward the far left post. Donovan beat Meola and defender Jimmy Conrad to the ball, poking the ball home near the left post.
After Onstad made the save of the game, tipping a point-blank Eric Quill header over the bar in the 87th minute, Donovan had time to seal his hat trick in the third minute of added time. He collected a pass from Ramiro Corrales on the left side and poked the ball past sliding defender Diego Gutierrez, who missed on his sliding challenge. Donovan had space to run freely into the box and slot the ball with his right foot past a helpless Meola for the first hat trick in Earthquakes history. The Earthquakes exhibited clinical finishing on the night as they scored their four goals on just five shots on goal in the match.
The setback extended the Wizards' team record winless streak to nine matches, including four consecutive losses. Kansas City's last win came more than two months ago on July 19 in Columbus (1-0). With five games remaining the Wizards are now 10 points ahead of the Dallas Burn for fourth place in the Western Conference (the top four teams in each conference advance to the postseason).
Since the 2000 season the Earthquakes are now 34-0-4 in matches in which they lead at the half and 38-2-3 in matches in which they score the first goal (10-0-1 this year).
Veteran defender Jeff Agoos, who was given the week off from training to nurse nagging injuries, sat out the match for San Jose. His absence opened the door for the return of Troy Dayak, who appeared in his first match since a May 17 match against Columbus after recovering from meniscus surgery on his left knee and a sports hernia. Forward Josh Wolff, still hampered by ankle injury, did not play for the Kansas City Wizards. Quill, who received a yellow card in the 28th minute, will serve a one-game suspension and miss the Wizards' match next weekend due to caution point accumulation.
The Wizards will travel to meet the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday, September 27 (10:00PM ET - HDNet) in a critical matchup for playoff seeding in the Western Conference. At the same time the Earthquakes will host the Dallas Burn at Spartan Stadium (10:00PM ET).
MLS Man of the Match: Landon Donovan (San Jose Earthquakes)
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