The San Jose Earthquakes exploded for three goals in the second half's first 15 minutes to break a deadlock, rolling to a 4-0 win over Austin FC at PayPal Park on Wednesday night.
HIGHLIGHTS: San Jose Earthquakes vs. Austin FC | October 20, 2021
That win, which included a milestone Chris Wondolowski goal, kept the embers of the Quakes' Audi MLS Cup Playoff hopes aglow. Meanwhile, Austin are already eliminated from postseason contention.
Though Austin had some promising early chances on goal via Alex Ring and Sebastian Driussi, the Quakes had the better of the opportunities and the possession throughout the first half. Those chances included a couple of Jeremy Ebobisse shots that tested Austin FC goalkeeper Brad Stuver – one coming late in the half when Stuver had to stop him during a 1-v-1 situation.
Starting striker Benjamin Kikanovic also got in a great chance in the first half, curling a 34th-minute shot from distance that just went wide of both a diving Stuver and the post.
But it was Kikanovic who got things started for San Jose during the second half, chasing down a ball sent deep into the Austin side of the field, wheeling around Julio Cascante, and then working the ball in front of goal where Eduardo "Chofis" Lopez was there to open the scoring.
Kikanovic got on the scoresheet himself six minutes after the opener via a breakaway, as Austin had pushed numbers forward in their attempt to equalize. Then, shortly after coming on a sub, legendary striker Wondolowski added to his all-time MLS goalscoring total with his third of the year and 169th of his long MLS tenure to make it 3-0. That put him above another legend, Landon Donovan, as the all-time MLS goalscorer when taking both regular-season and playoff tallies into account.
In the midst of that scoring explosion, Tanner Beason got his body in front of a Druissi shot for a goal-line clearance to contribute to Austin's misery. Carlos Fierro then added a fourth goal late, allowing him to herald the recent birth of his daughter with a playful post-goal celebration.
- THE BIG PICTURE: The Quakes may not have enough runway to reach the playoffs even if they string together some wins, but this was a statement-making victory to show they can be a solid Western Conference team. While the wild 4-3 comeback win in Austin on Sept. 18 suggested there might be a real rivalry brewing between the teams, it may be getting a little one-sided – the Quakes have now beaten Austin 7-0 in their last two second halves. For the visitors, they'll head back to Q2 Stadium on Sunday with a chance to beat an in-state rival and put themselves in contention for the Copa Tejas trophy – a consolation prize that represents their fans' last hope at some expansion season joy.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Though the first goal was all the Quakes needed, Wondo's goal was a history-making one – and it required some style points as well.
GOAL: Chris Wondolowski, San Jose Earthquakes - 59th minute
- MAN OF THE MATCH: A lot of Quakes players contributed to the win, but Kikanovic got the opening goal started with his hustle, and then scored what turned out to be an insurance goal that eventually had its psychological effects felt.
- SJ: Saturday, Oct. 23 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC | 10 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)
- ATX: Sunday, Oct. 24 vs. Houston Dynamo FC | 5 pm ET (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)