SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Chris Wondolowski created his own little bit of injury-time magic to give the San Jose Earthquakes a 1-0 win in an international exhibition against Liga MX side San Luis FC on Thursday night.
Wondolowski, who leads MLS with 18 goals, stole a loose ball from San Luis’ back line in the 92nd minute and took two dribbles before pinning helpless goalkeeper Cesar Lozano with a low shot to the near post.
Quakes fans will hope it’s a harbinger of a late-season surge for Wondolowski, who hasn’t scored from the run of play in his last seven league matches.
San Jose are unbeaten in their last eight international exhibitions. The Quakes last dropped an international friendly to Canada in 2004.
Wondolowski’s goal secured a game that featured plenty of chances at either end, belying San Luis’ status as one of only two winless teams in the Liga MX.
San Luis almost jumped on top in the second minute, when left back William Paredes stepped up to cut off a pass in San Jose’s half and fed a dangerous cross that Luis Mendoza banged off the crossbar.
San Jose, starting only four regulars, recovered from an off-kilter start and began to build their own pressure. After rookie Jacob Hustedt, starting at right back, drove a hard cross in the 18th minute, Wondolowski and Ramiro Corrales converged on it at the back post, but the cross-mouth touch rolled inches wide.
Wondolowski had two great chances stymied in the 45th minute. First, he took a flicked header from Steven Lenhart and successfully chipped Lozano, only to find the woodwork. Then, Wondolowski redirected a booming long-range attempt from Khari Stephenson, but Lozano cradled it with no problems.
San Luis nearly cashed in a 53rd-minute corner kick from David Salazar when Quakes goalkeeper David Bingham couldn’t land a solid two-fisted punch on the ball. Trialist Jordan Stewart saved the scoreless tie with a header off the end line.
Quakes midfielder Brad Ring jumped on a partial clearance by Lozano in the 56th, but fizzed it just over the crossbar from 25 yards.
Bingham could only get a body block on Guillermo Rojas’ 60th-minute cross, but was able to pounce on the loose rebound.
Trialist Matt Fondy, a Bay Area native, made a nice chest trap on a long cross-field pass from Corrales soon after coming on in the 64th to replace injured Sercan Guvenisik, and sent a strong half-volley too high.
Bingham made his best save of the night in the 75th minute, making a reaction parry on Cesar Villaluz’s blast. Ike Opara’s nifty bicycle clearance ended the threat.
San Luis’ back line came up with a couple of critical blocks in the final minutes, including an 84th-minute deflection on Wondolowski after a corner kick fell to him at the back post.
But Wondolowski had the final say.
The Quakes will now enjoy nine days to face Chivas USA on Saturday, Sept. 15.
Scoring Summary: SJ – Chris Wondolowski (unassisted) 90+2.
Misconduct Summary: SL – Moises Velasco (caution) 30; SJ – Steven Lenhart (caution) 32; SJ – Khari Stephenson (caution) 38; SL – Cesar Villaluz (caution) 39; SJ – Jordan Stewart (caution) 68; SJ – Sam Cronin (caution) 77.
San Jose Earthquakes – David Bingham, Jacob Hustedt, Ike Opara, Justin Morrow (Josh Suggs 46), Jordan Stewart, Mehdi Ballouchy, Brad Ring (Sam Cronin 74), Khari Stephenson (Simon Dawkins 74), Ramiro Corrales (Rafael Baca 74), Chris Wondolowski, Steven Lenhart (Sercan Guvenisik 46, Matt Fondy 65).
San Luis FC – Cesar Lozano, William Paredes, Isai Arredondo, Felix Araujo (Diego Ordaz 58), David Salazar, Moises Velasco, Jaime Correa, Emilio Lopez (Guillermo Rojas 58), Cesar Villaluz, Luis Mendoza, Emmanuel Cerda (Erick Esparza 68).
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.