Earthquakes' "key in the midfield" Anibal Godoy adds goals to arsenal

SAN JOSE—The San Jose Earthquakes required an epic comeback from a two-goal deficit to defeat 10-man Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday, 3-2, at sold-out Avaya Stadium. And like he did the week before, midfielder Anibal Godoy lifted the Quakes with a spectacular game-winning goal.

“When I got the ball, I just turned to shoot,” said Godoy. “I didn’t look at the goal or at the goalkeeper’s position. I just wanted to take the shot, and I was happy it went in.”

The match was in the Whitecaps favor for the first 20 minutes, with the Quakes' formidable defense from the week before giving up two easy goals for the visitors. The red card to Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted in the 23rd minute for denial of a goal scoring opportunity on Chris Wondolowski injected the home side with renewed energy, and Godoy led the charge.

“We have been trying to encourage [Anibal] to be more of a presence in our team, whether that be goals or in the way he plays,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “Overall, his performances have been pretty good and we’ll take the goals too.”

Following his MLS Team of the Week and No. 1 Audi Index rating following Week One, Godoy might have surpassed that effort against the Whitecaps. The Earthquakes midfield mainstay completed 93 percent of his 115 pass attempts, best on the team.

“We know he can score and defend,” said forward Marco Urena. “He’s our key in the midfield, the guy we pass the ball through. He has a lot of responsibility on this team. He knows that, and he accepts the challenge and does great.”

The two goals scored this season by Godoy – his cheeky chip to beat Montreal last week and his curling effort to top Vancouver – were scored in very different fashions, but they are par for the course when it comes to his efforts in training. Simply speaking, Godoy shows no fear when it comes to taking shots on goal.

“I wish I could say it surprises me, or even shocks me, but I see it every day,” Wondolowski said. “He’s a player of great talent and he has great composure in front of the goal. Some people like to rush stuff, but he stays composed and finishes well.”

The midfielder’s second game-winning goal in as many weeks is impressive, but it leaves him well behind all-time Earthquakes leader Wondolowski, who has an impressive 38 in his career. Ever the team player, Wondo has little problem with Godoy creeping up the list and maybe one day challenging for the top spot.

“I hope he breaks it,” Wondolowski said, with a laugh. “He’s done a great job. He’s a general in that midfield and his composure on the ball helps us out a lot too. What a goal.”

Godoy’s hot start to the season also sees him rewarded in a place in the Panamanian national team roster ahead of two crucial World Cup qualifiers later this month. The first will be away to Trinidad & Tobago, but the second one will see Panama play host to the USA, and Kinnear hopes all the best to his red-hot midfielder. Well, almost all the best.

“If his form and goal scoring exploits here serve Panama well in their first game, I’ll be okay with that,” quipped Kinnear. “In the second game, I am not so sure.”