Despite scoring more goals over the past three seasons than any other player in MLS, Chris Wondolowski was watching the U.S. men’s national team on television instead of live at snowy Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Friday night. Smarting from the unextended invitation, Wondo did the next best thing — scored yet another MLS goal, his second of the season, as the San Jose Earthquakes held off the Seattle Sounders to win 1-0 on a balmy March evening at Buck Shaw Stadium on Saturday.
Wondolowski was the thorn in Seattle’s side all match long. Perpetually challenging the Sounders back four and goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, the reigning league MVP made it seem only a matter of time before he would force the visitors to crack. He had several close calls, including his 43rd-minute header of a Shea Salinas cross that passed inches wide of the post.
But as the first half ticked into stoppage time, Wondolowski finally found his way past the Sounders and onto the score sheet. As Earthquakes keeper Jon Busch booted the ball downfield, opposing players went up to contest the header. Seattle’s fielder got his head to the ball, but it fell behind him directly into the path of San Jose’s formidable striker. He astutely tapped down the ball with his left foot, took a step, and unleashed a right-footed howler through the Seattle defense and past Gspurning into the far corner.
San Jose pushed for the insurance marker out of the intermission, but no more goals would be forthcoming. The Earthquakes were having some trouble with the Sounders attack, especially up the flanks as Steve Zakuani and Mauro Rosales found space to run. But Seattle would fail to find an equalizer, and the Sounders now sit mired below the Colorado Rapids in the Western Conference cellar. After a shaky start to their 2013 campaign, San Jose climbed to third in the West with the win.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS @ SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Buck Shaw Stadium
March 23, 2013
- 45′ — SJ/Chris Wondolowski (unassisted)
- SJ (4-4-2): Jon Busch; Dan Gargan, Jason Hernandez, Nana Attakora, Ty Harden; Ramiro Corrales, Sam Cronin, Rafael Baca, Shea Salinas; Adam Jahn, Chris Wondolowski
- SEA (4-4-2): Michael Gspurning; Leonardo Gonzalez, Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, DeAndre Yedlin; Steve Zakuani (Eriq Zavaleta/84′), Andy Rose, Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales (Alex Caskey/81′); Samuel Ochoa (Lamar Neagle/81′), David Estrada