The San Jose Earthquakes continued their dominating 2012 season with a convincing 2-0 win against Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center. Goals either side of halftime from Chris Wondolowski and Alan Gordon paced the visitors to their 7th road victory, their first since late June, and 17th overall victory of the year.
Wondolowski scored his 19th goal of the season, a new personal best, on a penalty kick in the 40th minute after Gordon had been fouled inside the area by Chivas defender John Valencia. Gordon scored his 12th goal of the season in the 49th minute when Wondolowski returned the favor with a perfectly weighted assist at the top of the area.
In addition to his 19 goals, which keeps him comfortably ahead in the race for the MLS Golden Boot, Wondolowski registered his 7th assist of the season on Gordons goal. In the star strikers seven previous seasons in MLS, Wondolowski had registered a grand total of 7 assists.
After 28 regular season games, the Earthquakes have earned 56 points and built an 8 point cushion over the Seattle Sounders atop the Western Conference standings. The victory over Chivas USA also raises San Joses point per game average to 2.00. Only three teams in MLS history have finished the season at or better than that number, and all three captured the Supporters Shield. The Earthquakes did both in the 2005 season.
The Earthquakes traveled to Los Angeles to face Chivas USA for the second time in the last two weeks. The first match was a 4-0 drubbing of the Goats at Buck Shaw Stadium, and Saturdays match at The HDC started off as if it would finish in much the same vein. A starting line-up that was missing speedsters Shea Salinas and Marvin Chavez was designed to gain and possess the ball early and often.
Despite being forced into the role of spectator for much of the early going, Chivas had the first scoring chance of the night through forward Casey Townsend. From a cross into the area in the 23rd minute, Townsend snapped a header toward the post that goalkeeper Jon Busch did well to turn to the side. Busch was up to the task seconds later to save another Chivas attempt on goal.
The match turned back in the Earthquakes favor soon after and they were rewarded for their patience in the attacking third when a rash off-the-ball challenge from defender Valencia crumpled Gordon to the turf. After conferring with his assistant referee, head referee Chris Penso pointed to the spot and awarded the Earthquakes a penalty kick. Wondolowski calmly slotted the ball past goalkeeper Dan Kennedy in the 40th minute to put San Jose up 1-0.
The Earthquakes doubled their lead in the 49th minute following a beautiful sequence of possession in the Chivas half of the field. A quick give-and-go between Justin Morrow and Simon Dawkins along the left touchline sprang Morrow into the attacking third. He squared a pass across the top of the area that Mehdi Ballouchy did well to dummy for Wondolowski. Playing selfless soccer, Wondolowski turned the ball into the path of Gordon to easily slot home past the wrong-footed Kennedy. The build-up to the goal was a great example of how well the team had possessed the ball all game.
Busch and the Earthquakes defense held tight the rest of the way, and San Jose finished off their second straight shutout victory over Chivas USA. The clean sheet was the seventh of the season for Busch, and the win was the first over the Goats at The Home Depot Center since the Earthquakes franchise returned to MLS in 2008.
A busy week continues for San Jose as they host the Portland Timbers on Wednesday night at Buck Shaw Stadium before traveling to the Pacific Northwest on Saturday to face the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field.