It might have taken more than 90 minutes, but before the final whistle sounded in the San Jose Earthquakes’ 2-1 victory against Colorado on Wednesday, everything fell back into place for the Quakes: Chris Wondolowski was once again on the pitch – and on the scoreboard.
Wondolowski, playing with San Jose for the first time since May 19 because of US national team duty, stepped up to the penalty spot in the 92nd minute of a 1-1 match and drilled his shot over diving Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens for the deciding goal.
“It felt like it’s been a while,” Wondolowski said after the game in the Quakes’ locker room. “I definitely missed these guys. It’s just a joy to be in this locker room and out there with them.”
Highlights: COL vs SJ
It was Wondolowski’s 12th goal of the season, giving him not only sole possession of first place in the Golden Boot race, but also a bit of redemption; in his most recent previous PK attempt, the man with 46 goals since 2010 was stoned by Columbus’ Andy Gruenebaum.
“I just try to pick a spot in the goal and hit it,” Wondolowski said, “and I was able to do that.”
Wondolowski was kept contained for much of the night by the Rapids’ defense, limited to just one shot in the run of play against four offside calls. Although it took several superlative moves from Pickens to keep the Rapids in front, San Jose’s danger was coming more from the likes of Víctor Bernárdez (third minute), Simon Dawkins (eighth minute) and Steven Lenhart, whose 36th-minute header was shunted aside by what Quakes coach Frank Yallop called “a world-class save.”
That all changed for Wondolowski when super-sub Alan Gordon came on and drew a penalty call while trying to round an exposed Pickens.
“I didn’t think we were playing our best, but we were creating opportunities, which is all you can really ask for,” Wondolowski said. “I thought our defense did really well trying to limit their opportunities. It was great to keep pounding away and get those goals.”
Gordon said that even though Wondolowski didn’t make a huge statistical impact, he still helped the Quakes’ offense by virtue of drawing attention, like a gravitational field.
“Any time you’ve got the Golden Boot winner, it’s good to have him on your side,” Gordon said. “He’s dangerous, he gets into good spots, and [opponents] have to change their game plan when he’s on the field. So it creates a little more space for other guys and we played better with him, for sure.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.