SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Jose Earthquakes finally got back in the win column on Saturday, beating the Chicago Fire 2-0 at Buck Shaw Stadium on the strength of Chris Wondolowski’s 10th goal of the season and Ramiro Corrales’ second.
The outcome put an end to San Jose’s winless stretch, which had reached a franchise-worst 13 matches, six shy of the 1999 MetroStars’ all-time league mark. The Quakes hadn’t won since June 11 against D.C. United.
Beating Chicago also kept San Jose (6-10-11) visible at the far edge of the MLS playoff picture. The Quakes jumped past Chicago (4-8-15) and into 14th place overall, five points behind 10th-place DC.
The Fire saw their two-game winning streak and four-match unbeaten string in league play bite the dust despite putting on some fearsome pressure in the first half following Wondolowski’s early goal.
The 2010 Golden Boot winner set the Earthquakes ahead in the 10th minute with a full-blooded volley off a cross-field feed from Rafael Baca, who unhurriedly collected a throw-in on the left wing and sent a curling ball to the back post.
Wondolowski, having shed fill-in left back Dan Gargan, met the pass with a solid redirection from eight yards out. Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson got his right hand on the ball but couldn’t keep it out of the net.
The goal moved Wondolowski into a three-way tie for third place in this year’s leaderboard, just two behind co-leaders Thierry Henry of New York and Landon Donovan of the LA Galaxy.
The recently acquired Gargan was playing left back only because Gonzalo Segares sat out for the first time all season due to yellow-card accumulation. Baggio Husidic came into the XI for the first time since July 2, with captain Logan Pause dropping to right back and Gargan flipping over to cover Segares’ spot on the left.
Gargan had a golden chance in the 17th minute to make up for his miscue, stealing an errant Khari Stephenson pass and then streaking down the sideline to run onto a well-weighted lead pass from Patrick Nyarko. Gargan dribbled to within nine yards of the net and beat a diving Jon Busch to the near side, but his attempt banged off the post and out of danger.
Another Stephenson turnover set up Chicago in the second minute of first-half injury time, but Busch sprinted off his line to stone Dominic Oduro at 12 yards. Off the ensuing corner, Busch — who wore a hard plastic protective mask after undergoing surgery last week to repair a broken bone in his right cheek — parried a Pável Pardo blast from just outside the penalty box.
San Jose came out after halftime and looked to build on their lead, rather than bunkering, and if not for yeoman's work from Johnson, they might have blown the game wide open.
Wondolowski forced a hand-ball call on Jalil Anibaba in the 52nd minute, but Johnson dove low to his right and was able to turn aside Wondolowski’s penalty kick. Johnson came up big again in the 62nd and 69th minutes to impressively deflect attempts from Wondolowski.
Johnson was helpless, however, when Stephenson and Wondolowski conspired later in the 69th to put Corrales in alone, and the Quakes captain tucked his shot neatly inside the near post.
To top off a less-than-superlative evening, Gargan earned a yellow card in the 57th minute for dissent and will miss Chicago’s next match.
Newly minted left-back first choice Justin Morrow was an injury scratch for San Jose due to a tight hamstring, so Ramiro Corrales dropped to his former spot and Sam Cronin returned in central midfield. Simon Dawkins filled in for Bobby Convey, also a victim of accumulation.
Chicago next host Chivas USA on Sept. 17, while San Jose travel to Houston that same day.
SJ -- Chris Wondolowski 10 (Rafael Baca 1) 10
SJ -- Ramiro Corrales 2 (Chris Wondolowski 3, Khari Stephenson 3) 69
SJ -- Steven Beitashour (caution; Reckless Tackle) 19
CHI -- Baggio Husidic (caution; Goalkeeper Interference) 35
CHI -- Dan Gargan (caution; Dissent) 57
SJ -- Simon Dawkins (caution; Reckless Tackle) 85
SJ -- Ramiro Corrales (caution; Reckless Foul) 90
SJ -- Sam Cronin (caution; Reckless Foul) 92+
Chicago Fire -- Sean Johnson, Jalil Anibaba, Dan Gargan, Cory Gibbs, Marco Pappa (Orr Barouch 72), Sebastian Grazzini, Pavel Pardo, Logan Pause, Baggio Husidic (Diego Chaves 60), Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro.
Substitutes Not Used: Yamith Cuesta, Josip Mikulic, Cristian Nazarit, Daniel Paladini, Jon Conway.
San Jose Earthquakes -- Jon Busch, Steven Beitashour, Bobby Burling, Jason Hernandez (Nana Attakora 61), Ramiro Corrales, Joey Gjertsen (Jacob Peterson 80), Sam Cronin, Simon Dawkins, Rafael Baca, Khari Stephenson, Chris Wondolowski (Matt Luzunaris 89).
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Leitch, Ellis McLoughlin, Brad Ring, David Bingham.
Referee: Geoff Gamble
Referee's Assistants: Daniel Belleau; Eric Proctor
4th Official: Yader Reyes
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Clear and 80 degrees