(image from @TechtonicTakes)
by Marko Ukalovic
SANDY, Utah–Chris Wondolowski scored two goals in a four-minute span late in the second half to give the San Jose Earthquakes a thrilling 2-1 come from behind victory over Real Salt Lake on a drizzly Friday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium.
San Jose have won three games in a row. Real Salt Lake had its two game wining streak to start the season snapped.
Wondo’s late heroics started when he scored the equalizer in the 83rd minute. Shae Salinas sent in a cross to Carlos Fierro whose shot was saved by Real Salt Lake goalie David Ochoa. Wondolowski kept himself onside inside the box and chipped the rebound over Ochoa for his first goal of the season.
He then completed the brace with the game winning goal just four minutes later in the 87th minute. Fierro possessed the ball down along the right sideline. He made one look into the middle before sending a perfect cross between two RSL defenders and Wondo buried a header past Ochoa into the lower right corner of the net for his second goal of the match.
With his brace, the all-time MLS leading goal scorer now has 168 goals in his career. He missed last week’s game against DC United due to a one-game suspension for receiving a red card against FC Dallas.
“It was monumental for me,” said the Quakes captain. “The first two weeks, I probably had the two worst plays of my career back-to-back. I can’t be thankful enough for the teammates that I have that picked me up and also the coaching staff. I say Matias, and a lot of it is Matias, but it’s his coaching staff as well with Omar [Zarif] and Guido [Bonini]. Those guys really help propel me and I wanted to repay them. They’ve been the wind behind my back, and I needed them these last couple weeks but I’m proud of this group, proud to be a part of it.”
Real Salt Lake (2-1-0) first quality scoring chance came in the 16th minute. Justin Meram had a shot from 20 yards out that hit the cross bar. The Quakes were able to clear away rebound and no second chance opportunity for RSL.
RSL drew first blood late in the first half when Rubio Rubín made a spectacular acrobatic play in the 43rd minute. A throw in from the left side line went to Damir Kreilach where he headed the ball over to Rubín. The 25-year old native of Beaverton, Oregon played the ball off his chest and fired a bicycle kick all in one motion into the upper left side of the net past Quakes goalie JT Marcinkowski for his third goal of the season.
Marcos López made his first start of the season at left back for head coach Matias Almeyda. His errant pass set up RSL’s first goal
San Jose (3-1-0) had two quality scoring chances in the first half. A corner kick led to Tanner Beason’s header attempt flying high over the net in the 19th minute. Then in the 38th minute, Fierro’s shot attempt from the right side of the box was saved by RSL’s goalie David Ochoa.
Despite controlling the possession in the first half 65%-35% and getting four corner kicks, San Jose went into the intermission licking their wounds down by a goal.
Each team received a yellow card in the first 45 minutes. Kraeilich earned his in the first minute of play when he made a hard sliding foul on Florian Jungwirth. Eric Remedi earned his card in the 21st minute with a hard foul along the right wing on Andrew Brody.
San Jose had a chance to get on the board early in the second half. Tommy Thompson raced in from the right wing and centered a ball into the middle of the box but Cristian Espinoza’s shot was blocked by a Real Salt Lake defender at the 57th minute.
“Chris [Wondolowski] gets ready every day with the belief that he can keep scoring. He supports whoever is playing and gives everything when he is called up. He deserves to score these goals because he is our legend that continues to score,” Almeyda said.
RSL had one last gasp to tie the game in the fifth minute of stoppage time but Nick Besler’s header from the center of the box went ride to the right.
“We are happy for this win. The team never gave up and fought until the end. Our offense is really good, but I also think our defense did a great job. We are happy for them. As time passes, we are learning more about each other and that has helped the team develop, and we have seen that in every match,” said Fierro.
Marcinkowski finished the match with three saves on four shots to earn his third straight victory. Ochoa made four saves on six shots in the losing effort.
GAME NOTES: San Jose had seven corner kicks. Real Salt Lake had four.
Salt Lake out fouled San Jose 11-9.
San Jose entered the game with a 0-3-3 record in its last six games at Rio Tinto Stadium.
UP NEXT: The Earthquakes return home to begin a three-game homestand when they host the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday 5/12 at 7:30pm at PayPal Park.