Sounders at Earthquakes 4/2/11 - Simon Dawkins is for Real

Simon Dawkins After a fairly frustrating week behind the scenes (getting reassigned to shoot the Giants after the A's denied credentials to both of the companies I shoot for) I was actually looking forward to just shooting for a couple of hours. And a funny thing happened, the Earthquakes actually put a decent side on the field, and played better than I have seen them play since they returned to MLS. Shocking.

When I got to Buck Shaw, I found that my credential read "Marr Cohen" is what I'm going to assume was a typo-homage to The Smiths' Johnny Marr. I'll note that there are some places where a typo like that would have prevented me from even being able to pick up the credential due to the name being different than the one on my ID. Luckily this wasn't one of them.

New midfielder Simon Dawkins, signed on loan from Tottenham Hotspur (!) cracked the starting lineup and played very well, contributing the Quakes opening goal, his first-ever in MLS play. Dakwins' pace stretched the Sounders defense, and allowed the Quakes to string passes together through the midfield and create four or five legitimate chances apart from their two goals. It's too bad Spurs are going to want him back for next season, but his future is definitely in the Premier League .

Defender Ike Opara returned to add some speed and muscle to the backline after missing half of last season with a broken foot, and hopefully will reclaim a starting spot. I can't believe I'm saying this, but between the deadweight the Quakes cut or benched in the off-season, and the Dawkins signing, they might actually be a real team, at least by MLS standards. Combined with improved lighting at Buck Shaw, it should be a good season for pictures.

Right off the bat, the Quakes got through the Seattle defense:

Kasey Keller & Ryan Johnson

Bobby Convey & Jeff Parke

Chris Wondolowski

Simon Dawkins

Defender Brandon McDonald and midfielder Bobby Convey congratulate Dawkins:

Simon Dawkins

Kasey Keller is 41 years old. 41 years old. He got to this ball:

Kasey Keller & Bobby Convey

But not this one:

Khari Stephenson came on at halftime and shortly after launched a shot from 35 yards that caught Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller off his line. This picture is from 120 yards away.

Kasey Keller

Ike Opara & David Estrada

Leonardo Gonzalez

The Quakes defense protected the tie, and choked off the Sounders' access to goal with increasingly physical play.

Sam Cronin & Steve Zakuani

Erik Friberg & Ramiro Corrales

Toronto is next up for the Earthquakes, and for the first time, it appears that head coach Frank Yallop has a puzzle to work out with regards to getting his best 11 on the field.