by Marko Ukalovic
San Jose, Calif- Move over Landon Donovan! The Wondo Watch is finally over thanks to a career game from captain Chris Wondoloski. The Danville native, making his first start since March 30th, scored four goals to become the MLS all-time career goals leader with 148. It paved the way for the San Jose Earthquakes dominating 4-1 victory over the Chicago Fire on Saturday afternoon at Avaya Stadium.
San Jose (3-6-2) drew first blood thanks to a great play by Shae Salinas in the 21st minute. Salinas dribbled in from the left wing and sent a low centering pass to a wide open Chris Wondolowski from five yards out and Wondo cashed it in with a one-timer off his right foot into the back post for his first goal of the season tying former Quake Landon Donovan at 145.
“It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work by Wondo”, said Salinas. “He’s been my teammate longer than anybody (I’ve played with) and I’ve been his teammate longer than anybody. It’s an honor to be apart of what he’s done. He’s an incredible goal scorer.”
Chicago (4-4-4) had two good chances to even the score within four minutes of each other. In the 24th minute the ball caromed off a deflection over to Nemanja Nikolic who was wide open in the center of the box but Quakes goalkeeper Daniel Vega made a diving save with his legs to keep Chicago’s leading goal scorer off the scoreboard. Then in the 28th minute, a free kick attempt Aleksandar Katai from just outside the box was stopped by Vega.
History was made in the 48th minute when a centering cross by Christian Espinoza was dropped by Fire goalkeeper David Ousted that landed right on to the foot of Wondo who chipped the ball past Ousted for the record breaking 146th career goal.
“It’s crazy”, said the all-time leading goal scorer in MLS history. “I love visualization. I’d always pictured hitting a 30 yard blast going up the 90. Didn’t really picture the goalie dropping it and tapping it in.”
Wondo scored the hat trick in the 74th minute when Espinoza led a rush down the right slot. He was tripped up but referee Alex Chillowicz allowed the Quakes to play the advantage and the ball found its way to a wide open Wondolowski who fired the ball into the upper left corner for goal #147.
“Honestly I’m just having fun right now”, said Wondo. “It’s really rejuinating and has just reignited this passion (I have playing soccer). I’m really having fun now.”
Wondo wasn’t done as four minutes laters he added to his all-time total when Jackson Yueill centered a ball from the right over to the left to a once again wide open Wondolowski who tapped into the goal into an empty net sending the crowd into a frenzy for goal #148.
Chicago scored a late goal in the 83rd minute when a shot by Katai deflected off a body that changed direction on Vega and into the back of the net for Katai’s third goal of the season.
“I can say it (now) because it’s going to seem odd to you guys”, Quakes head coach Matias Almeyda said jokingly. “But when I was speaking to my coaching staff today (before the game), I said maybe he’ll score four goals today.”
Wondo was substituted in the 90th minute to a standing ovataion from the Avaya Stadium faithful.
GAME NOTES: The Quakes have won four consecutive home games this season.
Forward Danny Hoesen suffered an injury yesterday that prevented him from playing in the game which cleared the way for Wondo to start.
Chicago had their two game winning streak snapped after back-to-back wins for the first time in two years after wins over the New England and Minnesota. It also snapped the Fire’s three game winning streak against the Quakes. San Jose leads the overall series 9-6-5.
A video message from Donovan was played at the 90th minute congratulating Wondolowski’s accomplishment.
Johan Kappelhof was issued a yellow card in the 41st minute on a tackle he made on Magnus Eriksson. Espinoza was issued his own yellow card in the 54th minute. Then Jorge Corrales received a yellow card in the 63rd minute. Katai received a yellow card at the end of the match.
Fire midfielder Nicholas Gaitan did not play due to a thigh injury.
UP NEXT: The Quakes travel north of the border to take on Toronto FC on Sunday 5/26 at 4:30pm at BMO Field.