|By Ivan S. Makarov
August 3, 2013
|After being gone for almost a month on the U.S. National Men’s team call up, Quakes captain Chris Wondolowski made his return count in the very big way against Chivas USA in the Saturday night contest at Buck Shaw Stadium. The team’s top goalscorer of the past few seasons showed he’s in top shape as he scored both goals for the team in 2-0 home victory.
“Tonight was great for Wondo,” said Quakes interim head coach Mike Watson after the game. “He’s been away for a while with the [U.S.] National Team, but I know he wanted to come back and make a contribution for us and he did that very well for us.”
Wondo’s presence was felt by the home side since the beginning. After successful run with US National Team that saw San Jose’s forward play a key role in CONCACAF Gold Cup championship, it seemed as though Wondolowski had an extra quickness and confidence to his game. It was something he might have lacked in the first half of the season, which saw him struggle to score goals at his usual pace. This time Wondo was focused and often ahead of defense by a step or few during many attacks by the Quakes. It really was the same Wondo that won the title of the top goalscorer in the league in the last regular season.
That confidence translated into two goals for Wondolowski.
The first one came at the very end of the even first half that saw both team exchange a few good, but not great chances on goal. Steven Beitashour delivered a long but accurate pass to the edge of the box for Victor Bernandez, who headed it towards open Wondolowski. The header fell straight into Wondo’s head who directed into the top corner for a nice finish.
The second goal by Wondolowski came towards the end of the second half, when Chivas USA were already playing with the man down after Carlos Bocanedra was sent off with the red card for two footed challenge on Shea Salinas. Wondolowski picked up a rebound inside the box after Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy made a difficult save on a great shot by Shea Salinas. With Kennedy down, Wondolowski put the ball just over him and into the net, scoring his seventh goal of the season.
Chivas USA had their share of chances during the game, but another great night in goal by Jon Busch, and his third clean sheet denied them any points in San Jose this time.
With the win, the Quakes improved their playoff chances, as this was their third straight victory in MLS action.
“I think the way we’ve been playing can carry us into the post-season,” said Chris Wondolowski. “That’s the great thing about this team: It’s not just one player who carries the team; it’s all 11 men out there working for each other. We have to fight for every ball, capitalize on our chances and play solid defense. I feel we’ve been doing that as of late and that’s a great recipe to make a playoff push.”
The Quakes are still out of the playoffs in the MLS standings, but are now only three points out of the fifth playoff spot in the West. Their next game is against Montreal in CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday. After that, the Quakes are playing Vancouver Whitecaps in MLS action on Saturday, a team they’re chasing for that playoffs spot.