Photo credit: @SJEarthquakes
By Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE, Calif. — San Jose Earthquakes captain Chris Wondolowski looked ready for the regular season as he singlehandedly led a comeback for his team with two penalty shot goals in a 2-2 draw with the Seattle Sounders in a pre-season match on Saturday afternoon at Avaya Stadium.
This was the fourth and final pre-season game for San Jose that came into the game off of a 3-0 victory over LAFC last week and finished 1-1-1 on the pre-season. Seattle finished 2-2-1.
The Quakes had the field tilted in their favor in the first 30 minutes of the game. Nick Lima’s centered a pass to Magnus Eriksson and his corner shot was stopped by a diving Stefan Frei. Lima then sent in a shot from 25 yards out in the 24th minute but once again Frei made a diving save to keep the ball out of the net. Christian Espinoza had a chance in the 29th minute but his shot went wide right from 20 yards out.
Seattle drew first blood when Jordan Morris took received the ball at midfield, raced down the right sideline and went around newly acquired Quakes midfielder Judson and crossed the ball into the middle to a wide-open Victor Rodriguez in the slot, who kicked the ball past Quakes goalie Daniel Vega into the back of the net at the 31st minute.
Marcos Lopez had a chance for an equalizer toward the end of the first half after taking a nice pass from Eriksson. However, his shot sailed high over the net at the 39th minute.
The Sounders doubled their lead in the 52nd minute when Rodriguez won a battle for the ball along the left corner end line. He made a nice move around a Quakes defender then centered a pass over to Morris, whose shot was blocked and deflected back to Rodriguez at the side of the net chipped it off Vega into back of the net. San Jose was standing around looking for a handball that was never called.
“There’s always things we can improve on,” said head coach Matias Almeyda after the game. “We look for a style to be aggressive, we try to be offensive. Even when we were down 2-0, I valued the (team’s) attitude. It was an important change.”
It became Wondo’s World in a four-minute span midway through the second half. Wondolowski was tripped up trying to split two defenders just inside the box. His kick beat Frei into the lower right corner of the goal at the 57th minute.
Then, in the 61st minute, Ericsson threaded a pass into the middle of the box and Wondo was pushed down by Kelvin Leerdam earning a red card and an immediate ejection for the Sounders defender and another penalty shot for Wondo. He cashed in his second opportunity for his second goal of the match into the exact same location as his first goal. Leerdam received red card and was ejected from the match.
“We’re starting to understand the system,” said Wondolowski. “Understand the way he (Almeyda) wants us to play. It’s demanding, but at the same time it’s fun, entertaining and a joy to play.”
Shea Salinas, who came in as a late substitution, had a scoring chance seconds into stoppage time, but his shot went way over the net that resulted in a free kick to Seattle.
“It showed our willingness to come back after we were down 2-0”, said Lima. “We were able to come together as a team I think the way Matias (Almeyda) wanted. Fight, get a couple of bounced to go our way and evened up the score.”
GAME NOTES: Wondo ended up leading the Quakes with three goals in four games during the preseason.
UP NEXT: The Quakes open up their 2019 regular season on Saturday March 2nd as they host the Montreal Impact at 6:45 pm at Avaya Stadium.