SANTA CLARA, CA - JULY 14: Simon Dawkins #10 and Victor Bernardez #26 congratulate Chris Wondolowski #8 of the San Jose Earthquakes after he scored his third goal of the game against Real Salt Lake at Buck Shaw Stadium on July 14, 2012 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Playing away from the Buck Shaw Stadium for the first time since May 19, and in one of the key games of the season against second place Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes took care of business, and some more. Chris Wondolowski scored a hat trick, and Alan Gordon and Simon Dawkins added two more goals for the final score 5-0.
"I felt it was a strong performance from the guys," said Frank Yallop. "I felt good coming into the game. There was just a sense of confidence in the team and in the locker room before the game and it carried out to the pitch. There was no doubt in my mind that we were going to win the game."
Quakes began the game like they really missed the place. It all started with a good scoring chance by Chris Wondolowski, as he was open 13 yards away from the goal, and kicked the ball low but just wide of the net.
With the pressure continuing, the Quakes opened the score on the 18th minute. Corner kicks have been a strength for the Quakes this season, and proved to be key in this game. With the delivery from Marvin Chavez, and two passes inside the box by Gordon and Morrow, the ball made its way to Chris Wondolowski in front of the goal line. MLS top goalscorer didn't miss his chance and found the net for his 15th goal of the season, this time a header.
Wondolowski could have doubled the lead on the 40th minute after a great run on left wing by Marvin Chavez and his cross straight into Wondo's head. This time Wondo's header was right above the net, leaving him standing and holding his head in disappointment.
Second half began with RSL finally creating offense appearing to turn the game around. But it all came to a halt on the 59th minute during a confrontation between teams in the middle of the field.
While trying to get the ball, Sam Cronin took down RSL's Morales who was left laying on the grass. The play continued, and Cronin then had the ball. Real players were not pleased with Cronin hesitating on what to do next, and the nearby standing Kyle Beckerman entered into a verbal argument with Cronin. When the ball finally went out of play, Beckerman pushed Cronin with his hands and within moments, pushing and shoving continued by players on both teams. Referees have tried to calm everyone down, but the game stopped for at least five minutes till the players calmed down.
The first thing the game referee Allan Chapman did was to show a read card to Kyle Beckerman. After consulting with linesman, he then showed yellow cards to Quakes' Justin Morrow and Fabian Espindola of RSL.
"I was trying to kick out the ball [for Morales], but I guess [Beckerman] was frustrated with Morales being down," recalled Cronin. "It's ref's decision."
With their key player and captain kicked out the game, RSL could not nothing to stop the avalanche of an offense they were about to face.
"Once it got to 10 men, we really turned the screws, which is a sign of a good team," said Quakes head coach Frank Yallop after the game. "We sensed that [RSL] was in trouble and then really took it to them."
"It definitely was a turning point in the game," said Sam Cronin. "Playing with a man down is always tough. It was a good fortunate turn of events for us."
And it sure was.
Not long after the play resumed, the Quakes were awarded a free kick on the right wing after a foul by Kenny Mansally. The set piece magician Marvin Chavez made the cross into the box, Victor Bendandez' shot came off the post, and rebounded to Quakes Alan Gordon who put it into an open net to make it 2-0 for San Jose.
Few minutes later, the Quakes made it 3-0. Shea Salinas broke through on the right wing after beating two men with his speed, and he crossed the ball low. Chris Wondolowski makes his living by beating defenders with fractions of seconds to the ball, and he was right there once more as he turned the cross into a goal, his second of the night.
As if the Quakes didn't score enough of set pieces goals already in the game, they scored another one on 78th minute, once again after a corner. Shea Salinas put the ball into the box, Wondolowski passed to Simon Dawkins, who put the ball just below the cross bar to make it 4-0.
Enough? Not for this team.
Only a minute later, Khari Stephenson found an open Chris Wondolowski with a pass that cut straight through RSL's defense, sending Wondo on 1-on-1 dual with Real's goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Wondo put the ball past him and completed his first hat trick this season and the third in his MLS career.
"If you look at the tape of this match, you will see that all I had to do was finish and that is a credit to my teammates," said Wondolowski. "All year long they have put me, Alan (Gordon) and Steven (Lenhart) in prime positions to score."
With the win, San Jose Earthquakes solidified their first place position in the West and now hold four points lead over Real Salt Lake, with a game in hand. They likewise hold the lead in Supporters Shield standings, with four points lead on Sporting Kansas City and RSL.