SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Last July, Chris Wondolowski lost a goal on a made penalty kick when a teammate was whistled for encroachment and his second attempt was turned aside. By year’s end, the San Jose Earthquakes star had fallen just one goal short of claiming sole possession of MLS’ single-season scoring record.
So maybe it was more than simply a misfire in Roy Miller’s cerebellum that drove the Red Bulls defender deep into the penalty box as Wondolowski was approaching the ball for his 90th-minute penalty kick against New York on Sunday. The infraction wiped off the books a diving save by Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles, and Wondolowski buried the ensuing re-kick.
Was this a case of karma re-establishing its equilibrium?
“You never expect it to happen again,” Wondolowski said of the encroachment call. “But truthfully, I really did see him out of the corner of my eye. He came up pretty close. ... I’m just so relieved to have a second one. Last year, that bit me, but this year, I’ll take it.”
The goal provided a happy ending on a night that started out in teeth-grinding fashion for Wondolowski. The 27-goal scorer was shut out last weekend in the Quakes’ season-opening 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake, and San Jose didn’t put a single shot on net Sunday until rookie Adam Jahn’s breakthrough goal in the 83rd minute.
With the weight of signing a Designated Player contract before the season and being the reigning league MVP on him, perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise when Wondolowski was booked for dissent in the 41st minute.
“I like that,” Quakes coach Frank Yallop said of his star’s yellow card. “I shouldn’t say that. ... He’s such a competitor. I’ve been around Wondo for a number of years, and he is ultracompetitive, and he gets mad when he doesn’t help the team out by scoring. And I think he was pretty [angry] last week that he didn’t get those chances put away."
Wondolowski succeeded this weekend, at least on his bonus attempt. Having gone to Robles’ right with the first try, Wondolowski waited out the 28-year-old the second time before firing inside the opposite post.
“The first one, I hit it really well, so I knew that for him to save it, he had to get a bit of a jump,” Wondolowski said. “I figured he was going to do the same, so I just tried to read him, and I saw that he was leaning a little bit to that side. So I just switched it up.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.