SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Chris Wondolowski and Teal Bunbury provided late fireworks Saturday night as the San Jose Earthquakes and Sporting Kansas City fought to a 1-1 draw.
Wondolowski broke open what had been a dreary match in the 85th minute by burying a left-footed volley at the far post off a long cross from Steven Beitashour.
Bunbury responded in the 86th minute for Kansas City, running onto a bouncing lead pass from C.J. Sapong and hammering it past San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch.
Kansas City (11-9-12) moved two points clear of second-place Philadelphia in the MLS Eastern Conference standings, although the Union have four games remaining to Kansas City’s two.
San Jose (6-11-14) failed to win for the 17th time in 18 matches and fell near mathematic elimination from the 10-team playoff chase.
Wondolowski, the leading scorer in MLS last season, now has 12 goals on the year, two behind league leader Dwayne De Rosario of D.C. United. Wondolowski also moved past former Quakes star Landon Donovan into sole possession of second place on the club’s all-time goal-scoring list with 33.
Bunbury now has eight goals for Kansas City, and Sapong five assists.
San Jose held the majority of possession on the evening, especially in the first half, but didn’t record a shot on goal until the 67th minute. Wondolowski’s strike came as a bit of a happy surprise for the capacity Buck Shaw Stadium crowd of 10,525 — a fifth straight sellout for San Jose — which had seen Sporting Kansas City increase their pressure after intermission.
It was a team-high sixth assist for Beitashour.
But Sapong took a quick restart, held off one San Jose defender and dribbled past two others to create space, then fed the ball to Bunbury, who went far post from eight yards for the equalizer.
The Quakes were credited with 15 first-half shots, but not one forced a save from Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen. Kansas City’s defenders, content to sit behind the ball, blocked eight long-range attempts by the Quakes.
Meanwhile, Sporting came alive at the half-hour mark and had almost all of the best scoring chances after that point.
Omar Bravo, set free by Jeferson’s through ball in the 30th minute, chipped skillfully over the charging Busch, only to see Beitashour swoop into the box to make a leaping goal-line clearance with his right foot.
Four minutes later, ex-Quake Kei Kamara fed a low cross to Bravo at the near post, but the Designated Player couldn’t get a touch on the ball, which skittered across the goalmouth.
A glorious chance fell to Kansas City in the 58th minute. The Quakes couldn’t clear effectively after Beitashour blocked Bravo’s initial shot, and the ball fell to Bravo just eight yards from goal, but he pushed it wide to the far post.
Bunbury nearly cashed in after San Jose allowed a Nielsen kick to bound through their back line in the 62nd minute. Busch dropped low to make his toughest save of the night.
Kamara’s 71st-minute free header off a Sporting corner trickled wide of the back post.
Sporting captain Davy Arnaud set a new franchise record by making his 238th regular-season appearance for the club, breaking a tie with current Kansas City assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin.
Jeferson, Kansas City’s mid-season Designated Player addition, returned to the starting lineup, replacing Graham Zusi, who came in on the brink of suspension for yellow-card accumulation with a critical Eastern Conference clash against New York coming up next for Sporting. Bunbury also started up top over rookie Sapong.
For the Quakes, center back Jason Hernandez was brought on after missing three games due to a left quadriceps strain, and Sam Cronin was inserted at central midfield, pushing Rafael Baca wide right.
Sporting's newest signing, Peterson Joseph, made his MLS debut as an 82nd-minute substitute.
San Jose return to action next weekend at New England, while Sporting get two weeks off before hosting the Red Bulls on Oct. 15.
SJ -- Chris Wondolowski 12 (Steven Beitashour 6, Simon Dawkins 2) 85
KC -- Teal Bunbury 8 (C.J. Sapong 5) 86
KC -- Omar Bravo (caution; Reckless Foul) 24
SJ -- Khari Stephenson (caution; Reckless Foul) 28
Sporting KC -- Jimmy Nielsen, Chance Myers, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic, Kei Kamara (C.J. Sapong 72), Davy Arnaud, Jeferson (Graham Zusi 87), Julio Cesar, Omar Bravo (Peterson Joseph 82), Teal Bunbury.
Substitutes Not Used: Michael Harrington, Lawrence Olum, Soony Saad, Eric Kronberg.
San Jose Earthquakes -- Jon Busch, Bobby Burling, Jason Hernandez, Steven Beitashour, Justin Morrow, Sam Cronin, Rafael Baca (Joey Gjertsen 66), Ramiro Corrales, Simon Dawkins, Khari Stephenson (Maxwell Griffin 72), Chris Wondolowski.
Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Convey, Chris Leitch, Ellis McLoughlin, Brad Ring, David Bingham.
Referee: Alex Prus
Referee's Assistants: -Jeff Hosking; Frank Anderson
4th Official: Jasen Anno
Time of Game: 1:50