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Earthquakes, FC Dallas play out string in season finale

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Sunday might be Decision Day around MLS, but the fates of the San Jose Earthquakes and FC Dallas already have been determined.

The two squads are among eight teams already eliminated from playoff contention, so their season-ending match in San Jose has nothing at stake other than pride.

The Earthquakes (10-13-10, 40 points) have clinched 10th place in the 13-team Western Conference while FC Dallas (7-15-11, 32 points) is in 11th place.

Still, San Jose would like to finish the season with its second straight win after delivering a 4-3 victory at Real Salt Lake last weekend.

Chris Wondolowski raised his MLS-leading goal count to 170, and 18-year-old Cade Cowell broke out of a slump with his fifth goal of the season.

Cowell, an All-Star midfielder, went 19 regular-season matches without a goal before finding the back of the net against Real Salt Lake in the 69th minute.

“It’s definitely important to finish off strong,” Cowell said. “It’s definitely a good year to see what I need to work on and what I need to do well in.

“I’m going to look back when it’s all over and focus on the little things and try to get a better season next year and keep going up and up.”

FC Dallas has its own young star in forward Ricardo Pepi, who has 13 goals and also made the All-Star team.

The 18-year-old Pepi, who figures to play a key role for the United States Men’s National Team next weekend against Mexico, might be tiring, with just one goal in his last eight MLS matches.

But he certainly has been the bright spot for a team that is just one point ahead of expansion Austin FC in the standings and sports a 2-10-4 road record. Dallas moved ahead of Austin with a 2-1 home victory last weekend to snap a 10-match winless stretch (0-6-4).

Jesus Ferreira scored his eighth goal of the season, moving into a second-place tie on the team with Jader Obrian.

Obrian has impressed interim coach Marco Ferruzzi in his first season with Dallas after playing in the first division in his native Colombia.

“(Obrian’s) got great durability for one thing, (and) he’s a very headstrong and aggressive player,” Ferruzzi said. “He’s developed more tools throughout the season. He went through an adaptation period, which most guys from different leagues have to go through. He’s found ways to be himself and find his scoring boots and also ways to be effective in our league.”

Dallas is winless in two matches with the Earthquakes this season. San Jose recorded a 3-1 home win on April 24, and the teams played to a 1-1 tie on Sept. 11 in Frisco, Texas.

–Field Level Media

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