A shorthanded goal by—who else?—Chris Wondolowski secured the 1-0 win and the three points for the San Jose Earthquakes when he redirected a mishandled Alan Gordon shot off of Dan Kennedy in the 87th minute at the StubHub Center in Carson, California Sunday.
As the second half progressed, it looked more and more like San Jose would be tallying a goal at some point. Each possession from the San Jose side yielded better looks and forced Kennedy to make the incredible saves that Chivas fans are accustomed to.
Just as a San Jose strike seemed evident in the 82nd, Gordon was whistled for an offside violation at which point Steven Lenhart ran into Kennedy. With Kennedy sprawled on the ground, Lenhart was called for his second yellow card.
It was a sloppy affair befitting two teams who have only one playoff appearance in the last three years between them.
The first half San Jose drew several corners but never really threatened. The fouls and cards highlighted the mutual dislike between the two teams. Oswaldo Minda quickly picked up a yellow card after tripping two Earthquakes players in short succession of each other and Lenhart gave a yellow to Steve Purdy causing the Chivas defender to leave the contest. The second half continued with miscues, players being knocked down. Dan Kennedy’s sweeping save in the 48th minute extinguished what had up until then been San Jose’s most dangerous opportunity.
Between the 60th and 70th minutes, San Jose attacked the Chivas defense like Rocky Balboa attacking a rib-eye steak. Multiple deflections were required by Kennedy at one point resulting in three consecutive corner kicks. The final of which Bobby Burling went down, taking the brunt of a collision with Minda. Burling returned but Chivas momentarily played down a man. Even when, the 69th when Kennedy catches, and managed to clear the ball, the reprieve was brief as a Chivas quickly was dispossessed and a Shea Salinas shot sailed over the cross bar. It was no wonder Kennedy took a yellow card for time wasting in the 69th minute.
The 53rd minute substitution of Matthew Fondy for Eric Avila has to be scrutinized. Fondy immediately put on a header on goal—as in straight to keeper Jon Busch—before killing a scoring drive by committing a dangerous foul undercutting an Earthquakes defender. On a breakaway in the 75th minute, Fondy took a shot from thirty yards out despite having three separate teammates open. The resulting save made short work for Busch. Finally, Fondy missed a chance for an equalizer when his shot cleared the crossbar sailing into the Chivas USA bleachers. It’s unfair to blame the loss on one player, especially a young substitute. However it may be wise to remind the youngster, and the organization, a coach is given only three substitutions and a Reserve League to hone impulsive young strikers.
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