SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Jose Earthquakes scored four goals in a matter of 12 minutes Saturday night, but they couldn’t find the one they really wanted.
Chris Wondolowski converted a 34th-minute penalty kick to tie Dwayne De Rosario atop the MLS scoring leaderboard, yet fell just short in his bid to become a back-to-back Golden Boot winner as the Quakes pounded FC Dallas 4-2.
Wondolowski and De Rosario both finish the season on 16 goals, which means — barring a record-setting explosion from someone in the Houston-LA game Sunday — De Rosario will claim the Golden Boot by virtue of having 12 assists to Wondolowski’s three.
Simon Dawkins scored twice to cap his inaugural MLS campaign and rookie midfielder Rafael Baca tallied his first league goal to help San Jose (8-12-14) romp despite being eliminated from playoff contention.
George John and Ruben Luna scored for Dallas (15-12-7), who missed an opportunity to snatch third place in the Western Conference from Real Salt Lake, who drew 1-1 earlier in the night, and grab the first-round playoff bye that comes with it.
Wondolowski had several second-half opportunities to pass De Rosario, but was denied each time by backup Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz, who was making his first appearance of the season as starter Kevin Hartman rested back home.
In the 55th minute, FC Dallas midfielder Bruno Guarda misplayed a ball deep in his own end, dropping it at Wondolowski’s feet inside the six-yard box. Seitz just got a hand to the ball as Wondolowski struck it, pushing the shot off the underside of the crossbar.
Seitz was again up to the task in the 71st minute, delivering a fine reaction save after Wondolowski redirected a pass from Joey Gjertsen from eight yards.
Wondolowski’s final salvo came in the 87th minute, when he uncorked a shot from 20 yards, only to see Seitz parry it with his right hand.
Instead of becoming the first player to lead the league outright in scoring in consecutive seasons, Wondolowski must content himself with being the first player to take at least a share of the crown in back-to-back years since LA’s Carlos Ruiz won outright in 2002 and tied Taylor Twellman in ‘03.
The Quakes broke out on top thanks to an individual effort by Dawkins. John cleared Sam Cronin’s errant long ball with a header to teammate Jeremy Hall, but Hall’s loose first touch gave Dawkins an opening, and he took advantage, sneaking in to gain possession just outside of the visitors’ penalty box then firing a bullet from 22 yards into the upper corner on the near side.
Celebratory confetti had hardly fluttered to earth when San Jose went up 2-0 in the following minute. Steven Beitashour racked up his team-high seventh assist by uncorking a dangerous cross off the right wing. The ball bounced, untouched, through Dallas’ six-yard box to the far post, where Baca ran past Hall to head it home.
Next up was Wondolowski, on a penalty drawn by Beitashour, who sped by Jair Benítez in pursuit of a long lead pass. Benítez delivered a shoulder to Beitashour’s back, sending him crashing into the end boards and Wondolowski to the spot.
Wondolowski, who misfired on San Jose’s only other penalty kick this season when he was stopped by Chicago’s Sean Johnson on Sept. 10, didn’t repeat his mistake, driving a hard shot off Seitz’s hands and into the net.
The Quakes kept trying to feed Wondolowski, and he pulled down a short looping pass from Khari Stephenson in the box in the 38th minute. Unable to find an angle against double coverage, Wondolowski’s second touch bounced off Benítez to the feet of Dawkins, who tapped it home from eight yards.
John got one back for Dallas in first-half stoppage time, heading in a second ball from Jack Stewart off Daniel Cruz’s corner kick. Luna tallied in the 90th minute, slamming it into the upper-90 as the Quakes were pushing desperately to get Wondolowski another chance.
Dallas will host a wild-card game Wednesday against the 10th-place club — either New York or Houston. The Red Bulls and Dynamo were knotted on 46 points Saturday night, with New York holding the tie-breaker on goal differential. But Houston have the match against the Galaxy on Sunday, the final regular-season contest of 2011.
SJ -- Simon Dawkins 5 (unassisted) 26
SJ -- Rafael Baca 1 (Steven Beitashour 7, Khari Stephenson 4) 27
SJ -- Chris Wondolowski 16 (penalty kick) 34
SJ -- Simon Dawkins 6 (unassisted) 38
DAL -- George John 3 (Jack Stewart 1, Daniel Cruz 1) 46+
DAL -- Ruben Luna 1 (Bruno Guarda 2, Jair Benitez 3) 90
FC Dallas -- Chris Seitz, Jeremy Hall, George John, Jack Stewart, Jair Benitez, Daniel Cruz (Victor Ulloa 81), Maykel Galindo (Andrew Wiedeman 63), Bruno Guarda, Bobby Warshaw, Fabian Castillo, Maicon Santos (Ruben Luna 73).
Substitutes Not Used: Moises Hernandez, Bryan Leyva, Zach Loyd, Richard Sanchez.
San Jose Earthquakes -- Jon Busch, Steven Beitashour, Bobby Burling, Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow, Rafael Baca, Ramiro Corrales, Sam Cronin, Simon Dawkins (Ellis McLoughlin 85), Khari Stephenson (Joey Gjertsen 62), Chris Wondolowski.
Substitutes Not Used: Nana Attakora, Chris Leitch, Matt Luzunaris, Brad Ring, David Bingham.
SJ -- Bobby Burling (caution; Reckless Tackle) 77
Referee: Kevin Stott
Referee's Assistants: Adam Wienckowski; Brian Poeschel
4th Official: Yader Reyes
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Clear and 76 degrees