SEATTLE – Chris Wondolowski moved one step closer to making history and the San Jose Earthquakes took another step toward the Supporters’ Shield.
The Earthquakes forward scored his 22nd goal of the season to lead the Earthquakes to a 2-1 win over the Seattle Sounders on Saturday. The win completed a season sweep for the Earthquakes, who went 3-0-0 against the Sounders despite playing two of those games at CenturyLink Field.
Wondolowski got the the winner like he has so many of his other goals this year, by virtually ghosting into space and finishing from point-blank range.
With the Earthquakes taking a corner in the 30th minute, center back Víctor Bernárdez found himself with time and the ball at the far post. He sent in a low, hard pass that an unmarked Wondolowski deflected past Sounders 'keeper Michael Gspurning from about 2 yards out. It was Wondolowski’s third goal of the week after he came off the bench to net a brace in a midweek draw with Portland.
The goal and resulting win would go on to overshadow what otherwise would have been a special day for the Sounders, as Steve Zakuani scored his first goal since breaking his leg on April 25, 2011.
Sammy Ochoa created the goal, using some tricky footwork to get by his defender and send a left-footed cross across the goal that Zakuani pounded into the back of the net to draw the Sounders level at 1-1.
That temporarily breathed some life into the Sounders, who got off to a nightmare start. Before the game was even two minutes old, Simon Dawkins found himself unmarked outside the area and let one rip past Gspurning into the far, top corner, the fastest goal the Sounders have allowed in 2012.
It also set the tone for the first half. The Earthquakes used high pressure to create numerous turnovers and forced the Sounders into playing long ball, sending balls over the midfield where the forwards had to battle with the much larger Earthquakes center backs.
The Sounders never really had a good look at a potential equalizer, although Fredy Montero did manage to get a clean header in the 86th minute sailed over the bar.
The Sounders, who were hoping to make a last-ditch run at the Supporters' Shield, now find themselves fighting for playoff position. They fell a point behind Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy and are now in fourth place in the Western Conference, albeit with a game in hand on the teams above them.
The Earthquakes all but locked up the Western Conference regular-season title and are now 11 points ahead of their closest competition.
Both teams will have a full week before they return to action, with the Sounders making the short trip to Vancouver on Sept. 29 and the Earthquakes hosting FC Dallas later that night.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Victor Bernardez||An absolute monster in the back, snuffing out everything Seattle threw at him and setting up Wondo's winning goal|
|2||Simon Dawkins||Showed great attacking endeavor throughout his time on the field, not to mention his stunning opening goal|
|3||Steve Zakuani||Slammed home the temporary equalizer for an emotional return to the scoresheet|