By JUSTIN FERGUSON
After watching their defending MLS MVP notch five goals for the U.S. Men’s National Team at the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup, fans of the San Jose Earthquakes hoped Chris Wondolowski would bring some of that scoring prowess from the Americans’ title run back to Buck Shaw Stadium.
On Saturday night, the Wondolowski of the Gold Cup showed up and ended his lengthy MLS scoring drought.
Wondolowski scored a brace in his return to the Earthquakes, his first MLS goals since May 8, in a 2-0 victory over a Chivas USA side that lost USMNT veteran Carlos Bocanegra to a red card midway through the second half. The win marked San Jose’s third straight victory, a crucial three points in the ultra-tight playoff hunt in the Western Conference.
The two sides went back and forth for most of the first half with Wondolowski and Erick Torres leading their respective offenses. The San Jose defense, featuring the debuting Clarence Goodson, stood tall for the shutout as Chivas USA only managed one shot on goal.
Seconds before the halftime whistle, Wondolowski opened the scoring with a fine header. Defender Steven Beitashour sent a booming pass up the middle of the field, finding the head of Victor Bernardez in the box. Bernardez nodded the ball across to Wondolowski, who beat Dan Kennedy from close range.
Chivas USA, who have now gone 10 straight road matches without a victory, thought they had an equalizer early in the second half, but Mario de Luna was whistled for offside.
Moments after Wondolowski was denied by a de Luna clearance, the visiting Goats went down a man. In his third appearance as a member of Chivas USA, the 34-year-old Bocanegra saw red for a dangerous tackle on San Jose’s Shea Salinas.
The Earthquakes controlled the match after Bocanegra’s red card, but Dan Kennedy kept the Goats in it with a few big stops. However, the goalkeeper could do nothing about Wondolowski’s second. After Kennedy saved a Salinas effort, the forward lifted a 87th-minute rebound into the back of the net to seal the victory for the hosts.
San Jose (8-9-6) will try to keep up their winning ways this Wednesday in a CONCACAF Champions League match at Montreal. Chivas USA (4-13-5) are back home a week from Sunday as they will take on the Colorado Rapids.
Here are the match highlights: