SEATTLE — On a night in desperate need of a storybook ending, the Seattle Sounders were more than happy to oblige.
A massive crowd of 64,140 — the third largest standalone crowd in MLS history — at CenturyLink Field came to pay tribute to the Sounders’ retiring goalkeeper Kasey Keller and were treated to a dramatic come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes.
WATCH HIGHLIGHTS: Seattle 2, San Jose 1
The home side overcame a plucky San Jose side and a 24th-minute strike from Chris Wondolowski, getting goals Sammy Ochoa and Fredy Montero in the 82nd minute and 87th minute, respectively.
With his 15th goal on the season, Wondolowski, the 2010 Golden Boot winner, drew level with D.C. United’s Dwayne De Rosario for the lead in this year’s scoring race.
As if following a script, the comeback would not have been possible if not for the heroics of Keller. The 41-year-old goalkeeper made seven saves, none of which were bigger than a multi-save sequence in the 65th minute.
Early on, though, it seemed as if it would be a bittersweet evening for the Sounders and their fans. The Quakes, eliminated from playoff contention several weeks ago, pushed the tempo and created several chances for themselves.
Wondolowski gave the Earthquakes the lead in the 24th minute when he ran in alone, collecting Rafael Baca’s perfect through pass and beating Keller with a well-placed shot in the lower left corner.
After the goal, the Quakes continued to push for more, only to be thwarted by Keller. The Sounders keeper dove to his right to deny Wondolowski on a low skillful header in the 43rd minute. And Wondolowski looked to have a second on a freekick in the 61st minute, but the goal was called back for the freekick’s being taken too quickly.
Meanwhile, the Sounders still could not find the energy needed to get back in the game. They failed to create many full chances or even half chances until a few events saw the momentum shift. First, talismanic midfielder Mauro Rosales came on in the 64th minute to make his first appearance in nearly a month, and then Keller pulled off his series of acrobatic saves in the 65th.
After Patrick Ianni’s poor pass, Keller was forced to come well off his line in order to beat the Quakes’ Khari Stephenson to the ball. Wondolowski then pounced on the loose ball and fired a shot from the left side which Keller staved off with a diving save. He then made a final block on Simon Dawkins’ follow-up before the defense finally cleared the danger.
WATCH: Keller postmatch ceremonies
The Sounders took advantage of their sudden ascendency and hit paydirt in the 82nd minute when Rosales, who suffered a sprained MCL against D.C. United on Sept. 17, found substitute Sammy Ochoa with a long through ball. The summer acquisition forward beat Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch to record his first goal since joining the Sounders.
Five minutes later, when most expected the match to end in a draw, the Sounders snagged the lead through Fredy Montero’s 12th goal of the season. Lamar Neagle found Montero, who barely beat the offside trap, and Colombian attacker calmly beat the defenseless Busch.
The result does nothing to change the standings, as Seattle remain in second place in the Western Conference, four points behind LA. They host Monterrey on Oct. 18 in CONCACAF Champions League action.
San Jose welcome Dallas on Oct. 22 in their final match of the season.
SJ -- Chris Wondolowski 15 (Rafael Baca 3) 24
SEA -- Sammy Ochoa 1 (Mauro Rosales 13) 82
SEA -- Fredy Montero 12 (Lamar Neagle 2, Brad Evans 4) 87
San Jose Earthquakes -- Jon Busch, Steven Beitashour, Bobby Burling, Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow, Simon Dawkins, Sam Cronin, Brad Ring, Rafael Baca, Chris Wondolowski, Khari Stephenson.
Substitutes Not Used: Joey Gjertsen, Maxwell Griffin, Chris Leitch, Matt Luzunaris, Ellis McLoughlin, Jacob Peterson, David Bingham.
Seattle Sounders -- Kasey Keller, James Riley, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyson Wahl, Alvaro Fernandez (Sammy Ochoa 68), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Lamar Neagle (Zach Scott 90), Mike Fucito (Mauro Rosales 64), Fredy Montero.
Substitutes Not Used: Erik Friberg, Roger Levesque, Pat Noonan, Bryan Meredith.
SJ -- Justin Morrow (caution; Reckless Tackle) 6
SJ -- Brad Ring (caution; Reckless Foul) 40
SEA -- Patrick Ianni (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 48
SJ -- Jason Hernandez (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 57
Referee: Michael Kennedy
Referee's Assistants: Kermit Quisenberry; Bill Dittmar
4th Official: Hilario Grajeda
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 52 degrees