SANTA CLARA, Calif. – This was one area where San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski didn’t want to emulate Roy Lassiter.
When Lassiter set the MLS single-season scoring record in 1996, he led the Tampa Bay Mutiny to the league’s best record – but couldn’t get to the MLS Cup final.
Wondolowski, who matched Lassiter’s 27-goal haul to share the top spot on the all-time leaderboard, suffered the same fate Wednesday as the Earthquakes – owners of a league-high 66 points – crashed out of the playoffs with a 3-1 loss to the LA Galaxy, who took the Western Conference Semifinal series 3-2 on aggregate.
Wondolowski finished the match with the same stats as he had in Sunday’s first leg: four shots, one on target and no goals.
“I know right off the bat I had three very good chances,” Wondolowski said. “I missed all three, and I let the team down.”
Foremost among those opportunities was a 26th-minute chance that fell to Wondolowski when Omar Gonzalez could only chest down a dangerous cross from Steven Beitashour. With goalkeeper Josh Saunders knocked down and off his line, Wondolowski had a mostly open net to fire at from nine yards, but he blazed it over the crossbar.
“I thought I had to lift it a little bit because Josh was there, but I just sent it way over,” Wondolowski said. “Pretty bad.”
After a franchise-record 72 goals in regular season, San Jose’s only strikes in 180 playoff minutes came from Víctor Bernárdez and Alan Gordon, which made it hard for Wondolowski to stomach the way the Quakes’ season came to a sudden, abrupt end.
“We’re playing CONCACAF Champions League next year,” Wondolowski said. “That’s pretty cool, but right now, it means absolutely nothing.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.