After suffering a frustrating 3-1 loss to Portland a week ago, the San Jose Earthquakes got back to playing their style of soccer Sunday afternoon, and defeated Sporting Kansas City, 1-0.
The win keeps the Quakes playing solid soccer at home, where they are unbeaten on the season. An victory also keeps San Jose unbeaten following a loss.
“It’s a good sign,” said San Jose head coach Dominic Kinnear. “When you walk off the field with a loss, the one thing you want to do when you step on the field next time is try to rectify that. Probably our passing and movement was better in Portland than it was here today but we didn’t get broken down like we did in the second half (in Portland). So that’s a good sign.”
It wasn’t a game dripping with scoring opportunities for San Jose. But the Quakes executed when it counted, capitalizing on over-commitment from the Sporting goalkeeper to draw a penalty kick and that was enough to earn San Jose the three points.
The shutout is the third of the season for Earthquakes goalkeeper David Bingham. The San Jose defense has only allowed two goals in five Avaya Stadium matches.
“Our passing out of pressure got better as the half went on,” Kinnear said. “I think in the beginning we were a little bit, not understanding there was pressure coming our way especially with our backs to the play. And I think once we passed and moved a little bit better, it opened up things wide. You go with in a plan, you go in with trying to get the guys to play a certain way and it doesn’t mean it’s automatically going to happen and I think at times … our movement was better, our passing was better and our decision-making was better.”
It was a productive match for the San Jose midfield. Alberto Quintero and Simon Dawkins enjoyed a fair share of success creating opportunities by outpacing the defenders. Quintero had a clear chance at goal on a breakaway midway through the first half of action. Fatai Alashe missed just wide on an opportunity from inside the 18-yard box for San Jose’s best opportunity of the period.
The workman-like production continued early in the second half. This time it was Dawkins’ turn to cause a bit of havoc. It was his penetration that forced Tim Melia to dive at the midfielder’s legs. Dawkins hit the floor and drew the penalty kick that Wondowlowski executed to clinical precision with Melia barely reacting before the ball crossed the line for the 1-0 lead in the 59th minute.
The goal is Wondolowski’s seventh of the season to lead all of Major League Soccer.
“I thought before then, we were pretty good for a goal,” Kinnear said. “I thought we had some decent looks. We put ourselves in good areas. We tried to send a message to the guys before the game that, this is a team that when the whistle blows they’re ready to play. You can’t feel yourself into the game you have to be ready to play right away and I felt at times we were a bit too casual and they were taking advantage of that.”
Surprisingly, Sporting Kansas City didn’t pose much of a threat even when looking to press for an equalizer. Kinnear credited the defense for that.
“Anytime you get a shutout, there are a couple of things that go into it — maybe the other team is missing their chances or you’re defending well,” Kinnear said. “David came out and really snuffed out some crosses which relieves pressure. But I think we did a good job of trying to limit their movement through the middle and try to push them to the outside where it’s easier for us to defend.”
MAN OF THE MATCH:
It was another strong home performance for Bingham, who was credited with five saves in the win. “Can’t say enough good things about David right now,” Kinnear said. “He’s playing really well and he’s bailing us out when we need him to. He’s got great range and when he makes a decision, he’s strong which is what you want from your goalkeeper.”
The sentiment following the match was that Sporting Kansas City played well enough for a draw and thus, Dawkins drawing the referee’s whistle in the penalty box and Wondolowski’s goal was the turning point of the game. The goal is Wondolowski’s 116th of his career. Having passed Ante Razov for fourth all-time last week, the San Jose captain’s next target is Jaime Moreno, who scored 133 goals in 340 games during his career. Wondolowski also moved closer to Jeff Cunningham for third all time in game-winning goals. Wondolowski now has 38 and Cunningham has 40.
Sporting Kansas City: Matt Besler (yellow, 33’), Benny Feilhaber (yellow, 59’), Amadou Dia (yellow, 81’); San Jose: Anibal Godoy (yellow, 1’).
Reported attendance at Avaya Stadium was 18,000.
San Jose forward Quincy Amarikwa looked to grab his right hamstring and jog gingerly before being substituted for Adam Jahn in the 71st minute. There was no official word from the Quakes other than Kinnear confirming Amarikawa was removed as a precaution. After the match, Amarikawa could be seen walking with a bit of a limp.
San Jose travels to the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, to take on the Union on April 30. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. You can watch the match on CSN Plus.