SAN JOSE — There were no waterworks from Mother Nature or the Colorado Rapids Sunday afternoon at Avaya Stadium. The San Jose Earthquakes were responsible for one of those.
The Earthquakes (1-0-0, 3 pts.) opened the 2016 Major League Soccer season with a 1-0 win over Colorado thanks to a Chris Wondolowski goal in the 46th minute. The goal was Wondolowski’s first of the season and 110th in his illustrious career. It was also his 37th career game-winner.
But the real credit for Sunday’s win goes to the San Jose defense which blanked Colorado, anchored by goalkeeper David Bingham and his five saves.
“[David Bingham] obviously had a good game,” said San Jose head coach Dominic Kinnear, “made some good saves. And was a big part of the shutout. So, happy [with the win].”
“I thought it was a good game defensively,” Bingham said. “I thought we had moments when we obviously weren’t up to par but the most important thing is to get the win. We got the shutout, which is nice. We know what we have to work on going forward and we’ll work on it this week.”
The clean sheet for San Jose comes after a 2015 season when they shut out opponents 12 times. It also continued a 13-game unbeaten streak against the Rapids, dating back to August of 2011.
“The season opener is always good to win,” Kinnear said. “We could definitely play better. At times, we looked really good and at times, we looked a little disjointed. Maybe it’s to be expected on the first day of the year but the most important thing is when you wake up in the morning and look up at the standings, that you’ve won a game.”
It was quite the debut for Panamanian newcomer Alberto Quintero. The midfielder looped a ball into the box for Wondolowski who headed in the only goal of the game. The assist is the first for Quintero and bodes well for an offense with talented players in need of some gelling to really get going.
“I’m happy because we reached our first objective which was to start the season on the right foot, winning at home,” Quintero said. “It’s a good debut for me, personally, I think I did my job and what was asked of me. Little by little, step by step, I’m looking to adapt as quickly as I can to the team.”
MAN OF THE MATCH:
Wondolowski’s goal will get the headlines, but Bingham and his five saves (two of the spectacular variety), along with his leadership in the back, was the true hero.
“When we’re healthy, I think we have one of the best back fours in the league,” Bingham said.
Colorado head coach Pablo Mastoreni mentioned it — while the Rapids played well for 93 minutes, all it took was 20 seconds of sub-par soccer and just like that, San Jose made them pay. The game’s lone goal came 20 seconds in the second half and was the turning point.
“Alberto led me perfect,” Wondolowski said of the pass. “He hit me right in stride. I didn’t have to do too much and put a lot of power on it because of that pass so I think a lot of credit goes there.”
San Jose: A. Quintero (yellow, 62’), A. Godoy (yellow, 75’). Colorado: M. Azira (yellow, 43’), D. Powers (yellow, 86’)
Official attendance for the 2016 home opener was 18,000.
Shaun Francis (defender) out at half with a right quad strain. Replaced by Kip Colvey (rookie making his MLS debut).
It’s two in a row at San Jose for the Earthquakes. They’ll face a tougher test when the reigning Major League Soccer champions, the Portland Timbers, come to Avaya Stadium on Sunday, March 13. Game time is 4 p.m.