The San Jose Earthquakes will be the first to admit that their 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls Wednesday night was not pretty. But the beautiful thing about a win is that it doesn’t need to be pretty to be any more fulfilling.
Two goals in the span of 15 minutes was enough for San Jose to start the week of soccer off on a strong note with a road game over in Portland against the Major League Soccer champion Timbers awaiting them on Saturday. San Jose is now 3-2-1 on the season.
“As I was driving over to the stadium today, I was thinking to myself there is no such thing as a bad win,” said San Jose head coach Dominic Kinnear. “It wasn’t pretty. But it was a good win for us.”
It was an up and down game to begin but the Earthquakes finally made their presence felt in the 31st minute when Chris Wondolowski found himself on a breakaway. The forward, uncharacteristically, was unable to capitalize on the opportunity. But San Jose’s first clear chance at goal was a sign of positive things to come.
The Quakes next offensive surge was fueled by the San Jose wingers, who funneled a couple of crosses into the New York box. In an attempt to clear, Matias Perez Garcia found a trailing Fatai Alashe who then fired a shot from 20 yards out that took a deflection on its way into the Red Bulls net to put the Quakes up 1-0.
The goal was the first of the season for Alashe and third of his MLS career.
“Whenever you can get a lead going into the half, it’s important,” Alashe said. “Especially against a good team at home. I think it kind of gave us a little bit of momentum going into halftime and it gave us something to be positive about going into the locker room.”
The Red Bulls threatened San Jose during a couple of stretches. Some of those opportunities required strong David Bingham saves but New York’s clearest came on a slip-and-whiff from point blank range by Shaun Wright-Phillips. The miss kept the game up the Quakes 1-0.
San Jose got the insurance it needed when Wondolowski scored in the 55th minute. Shea Salinas made a run on the left side after a hustle play by Garcia to recover the ball. Salinas then dropped a dime on Wondolowski who was unmarked inside the 6-yard box. The forward finished with his head to give him goal number five of the season and 114 of his career — that figure is good for a fourth-place tie atop the all-time goals scoring chart for MLS, tying him with Ante Razov. Wondolowski’s five goals is good for the league lead.
David Bingham collected five saves and picked up his second clean sheet of the season.
MAN OF THE MATCH:
Without a doubt, Wednesday night’s outcome would’ve been different were it not for Bingham’s heroics in goal. The box score credits Bingham with five saves, but it doesn’t indicate the true quality needed to keep the clean sheet. “He played really good for us,” Kinnear said of Bingham.
Kinnear said in the postgame press conference that Alashe’s goal came at exactly the right time. “The game needed a goal,” Kinnear said, “to either settle down or get better. From my vantage point, I wanted that goal to go our way. It was a good play.” The goal put San Jose up 1-0 and the Quakes were able to take that halftime momentum and make it count.
San Jose: Garcia (yellow, 45’); New York: Kljestan (yellow, 62’).
Reported attendance at Avaya Stadium for its first midweek match of the season was 18,000.
Andres Imperiale started his fourth game of the season in place of Clarence Goodson for San Jose. No update was given on Goodson’s return. Kinnear did say he expected Panamanian national Anibal Godoy to be available for Wednesday’s game but he was not in the lineup. Instead, Kinnear said you can expect to see Godoy Saturday against Portland.
San Jose travels north to face the defending MLS champions, Portland Timbers, on Saturday. The Quakes handed Portland a 2-1 loss earlier in the season in route to starting the season 2-0 for the first time in club history. Game time is scheduled for 7:30. Catch the game on CSN California.