SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes may not be done and dusted after all.
Chris Wondolowski opened the scoring in the first half, and Marvin Chavez and Shea Salinas emphatically finished off the game after intermission to help the Quakes blow open Group 5 of the CONCACAF Champions League with a 3-0 victory against the visiting Montreal Impact on Tuesday evening.
The resounding win keeps alive San Jose’s hopes of advancing in their first CCL appearance, although the Quakes now need help from the Impact. Group leaders Heredia can still clinch the top spot with a tie or win in Montreal next Tuesday, which would make moot the Guatemalans’ trip to San Jose on Oct. 23.
The victory was a much-needed relief for San Jose, who came in with only one multi-goal performance in their previous eight matches across all competitions – including a pair of 1-0 road losses to start their CCL campaign.
For the Impact, who started almost exclusively front-line defenders and midfielders, it was a massive torpedo to their hopes of advancement. Montreal must absolutely paste Heredia next week in their last group match, then hope for a narrow win by San Jose against the Guatemalans to survive.
After 200 scoreless CCL minutes, San Jose finally got on the scoreboard through Wondolowski. The sequence began with Dan Gargan’s long throw from deep on the right wing. Steven Lenhart, unhindered by defenders, flicked the ball on with a header. Wondolowski, who had a step on trailing defender Hassoun Camara, reached the ball first to one-time a roller inside the near post.
Chavez provided the insurance when he trapped a failed clearance by Patrice Bernier in the 57th minute and quickly fired a sizzling left-footed shot from 22 yards that eluded Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush.
Salinas sealed the deal by scooping up another weak clearance, taking one dribble around Jeb Brovsky and then sliding a shot under Bush to the far post.
Salinas almost made it 4-0 in second-half injury time with an open look inside Montreal’s area, but Bush came off his line to make the save.
Even with 18-goal man Marco Di Vaio, the MLS’ leading scorer, coming on in the 63rd minute, Montreal could not trouble San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham in the final half-hour.
Montreal generated some dangerous moments in the opening half as they sought the first road goal from any club in Group 5. Jason Hernandez delivered two sliding blocks on Andrew Wenger in the first eight minutes. Justin Morrow held off Justin Mapp at the back post during stoppage time to clear a Davy Arnaud cross which skidded tantalizingly across the Quakes’ goalmouth.
The Impact’s best chance was a 3-on-3 counterattack in the 38th minute, but Daniele Paponi was flagrantly wasteful in blasting his first-timed shot well wide and high of net.