SAN JOSE — As far as statements go, the San Jose Earthquakes just made a huge one.
After shutting out the Colorado Rapids in their first game of the season, the Quakes (2-0-0) faced a tougher test in the reigning Major League Soccer champions, the Portland Timbers, and had all the right answers beating them, 2-1. Chris Wondolowski and Quincy Amarikwa scored while David Bingham was six minutes away from recording his second shutout of the season.
The win marks the first time in San Jose Earthquakes history the team started 2-0.
“I thought we played well. We came out pretty sharp. We passed the ball,” San Jose Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “I thought the first 45 minutes were really, really sharp. The second half, we knew they were going to make a push and we had to sit in a little bit, which I didn’t really want to do, but it happens. And to come out and beat the defending champions, you knew it was going to be a big effort from everyone involved and it’s what we needed and it’s what we got.”
The San Jose defense knew Portland would test them with a handful of footballers posing a legitimate threat. And the Timbers did have their chances early — hitting the post in the 6th minute and then a Diego Valeri chance coming up empty in the 12th minute. But San Jose weathered the storm, anchored by another winning effort by Bingham.
“He came in real prepared this year,” Kinnear said of Bingham. “I think last year was a big help for him. It gave him a lot of confidence and I think you can see that now. I think he knew before the season that, given the chance, be belongs in this league as a starter. He’s making good saves and making sure the guys are in the right spots. He’s coming out at the right times and so far he’s having a real good season which we expected from him.”
San Jose got the goals it needed when the game settled. Anibal Godoy played a low cross into the box and Wondolowski capitalized on a near post run, redirecting the ball for the 1-0 lead.
“It was nice to get some final product,” Wondolowski said, “because I thought we had some good spells, and kind of knocked it around. It’s always nice to see it hit the back of the net and kind of spur us on from there.”
“It was a great pass by Kip (Colvey),” Godoy said of the play. “I just tried to cross it on low knowing we have a hunter like Wondo, and he came out of nowhere to score. He has an intuition in the box and he’s always where he feels it’s best.”
Amarikwa’s goal came one minute into first half stoppage time and it was a thing of beauty. After winning an aerial battle for the ball some 70 yards from goal, Amarikwa took off on a breakaway, looked up 30 yards away and lobbed a ball far post into Portland’s upper 90 for a 2-0 lead and huge momentum shift heading into halftime.
“It was something special,” Kinnear said of Amarikwa’s goal.
Portland pulled a goal back in the 89th minute when substitute Jack McInerney scored.
MAN OF THE MATCH:
It’s hard to vote against Bingham, who was a handful of minutes away from his second shutout of the year. Against a good offense, he and the rest of the defense, were up to task. “It wasn’t the prettiest game,” Bingham said. “The most important thing is the three points. I think we did a good job today of eliminating chances. It’s a good win for us.”
It was Amarikwa’s goal that stole the show and proved to be the game-winner. Like a Stephen Curry buzzer-beater, Awarikwa’s goal electrified the Avaya Stadium crowd and gave San Jose a huge boost going into halftime. “The finish was sublime,” Wondolowski said of his fellow forward’s goal. “But that just embodies Quincy right there. He muscles off two guys on his own half, sprints away from a couple guys and hits a world class finish. It was something special.”
Wondolowski knows a thing or two about scoring goals. He now has 111 in his MLS career.
San Jose: Bernardez (yellow, 64’), Bingham (yellow, 90+1)
Sunday’s reported attendance was 18,000.
Fatai Alashe came out of the game in the second half and walked off gingerly. Kinnear said there was no injury, just fatigue.
After two wins at Avaya Stadium, the Earthquakes hit the road to face the rival Los Angeles Galaxy. Catch the game on Saturday, March 19 at 7:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California.