The San Jose Earthquakes keep marching along in their quest for the 2012 MLS Cup. After clinching a postseason berth a weekend ago without needing to kick a ball, the Earthquakes returned to action with a one-sided 2-0 victory over Chivas USA.
The win over the Goats at The Home Depot Center marked the first time the new Earthquakes had beaten Chivas on the road since returning to the league in 2008. Since the facility opened in 2003, San Jose has not had a lot of success at the shared home of Chivas USA and the Los Angeles Galaxy. Coupled with their dramatic 3-2 victory over the Galaxy back in May, the Earthquakes completed a regular season sweep at The Home Depot Center for the first time in franchise history.
The victory over the Rojiblancos was the team’s 17th of the season, which is only two short of the franchise record set in 1999. In fact, if only MLS seasons where ties were counted in the standings — not the quirky overtime wins from the years of rules experimentation for the league — the current team is only one win behind the Supporters’ Shield winning side of 2005.
That 2005 Earthquakes team still remains the benchmark for San Jose’s MLS regular season success, as head coach Dominic Kinnear’s side finished the season with an 18-4-10 record and 64 points. The Quakes 2.00 points-per-game average was the third best in league history and coincidentally is also the team’s mark this season after the win at Chivas USA. Each of the three teams in the league’s 16 year span that finished its season at or better than 2.00 PPG also captured the Supporters’ Shield.
Speaking of the Shield, in the current standings, 5 points now separate the first place San Jose Earthquakes from second place Sporting Kansas City. To put the size of that lead in perspective, 5 points also separates second place Seattle from eighth place Real Salt Lake. It would take a statistically aberrant run of results over their last six matches for the Earthquakes to yield the Shield.
San Jose added to their franchise best single season scoring record with two more goals against Chivas and now count 58 goals in total for the 2012 season. Chris Wondolowski, well on his way to his second career MLS Golden Boot award, has 19 goals on the season. He also has seven assists in 2012, which matches the total number of helpers he has had in his first seven professional seasons. Wondolowski also scored his ninth game-winning goal of the season in the win at Chivas, matching his MLS record set in 2010.
Is there still a question as to whether Wondolowski deserves the 2012 MLS Most Valuable Player award?
Earlier in the year, it was the "Goonies never say die" Earthquakes, and now it is the "Hulk Smash!" Quakes. The Supporters’ Shield is in sight and the playoffs are right around the corner. And if all goes well, the Earthquakes will be playing for the MLS Cup somewhere in the Bay Area on December 1.
Keep reading for more notes and quotes from the Earthquakes 2-0 win over Chivas USA.
San Jose Earthquakes (17-6-5, 56 pts.) vs. Chivas USA (7-13-7, 28 pts.)
Sept. 15, 2012 – Home Depot Center
San Jose Earthquakes – Jon Busch, Steven Beitashour, Victor Bernardez, Ike Opara, Justin Morrow, Mehdi Ballouchy (Ramiro Corrales 75), Sam Cronin, Rafael Baca, Simon Dawkins (Khari Stephenson 90), Chris Wondolowski, Alan Gordon (Steven Lenhart 62).
TOTAL SHOTS: 14; SHOTS ON GOAL: 3; SAVES: 2; FOULS: 17; OFFSIDES: 6; CORNER KICKS: 5.
Chivas USA – Dan Kennedy, James Riley, Danny Califf, John Valencia, Jorge Villafana, Oswaldo Minda (Ryan Smith 66), Shalrie Joseph, Nick LaBrocca, Miller Bolanos, Casey Townsend (Jose Correa 76), Juan Agudelo (Juan Pablo Angel 66).
TOTAL SHOTS: 14; SHOTS ON GOAL: 2; SAVES: 1; FOULS: 10; OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 9.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES HEAD COACH FRANK YALLOP
Thoughts on the game:
"I thought we moved the ball well, I thought we defended well. No matter where you go in our league, there is always a tough game waiting. I thought we were good all around and I think we could’ve scored more goals in the end."
Thoughts on Chris Wondolowski:
"When you have a team that creates a lot of chances around the goal, it’s great to have a guy like Chris who is always in good spots. He is always looking for his teammates and where they are on the pitch, making good runs, and he’s making good choices with the ball in the final third."
SAN JOES EARTHQUAKES FORWARD CHRIS WONDOLOWSKI
Thoughts on the assist:
"I thought it was just a great team goal. We went down on the left side, connected some passes, saw [Justin] Morrow making a run near post; Mehdi had a great dumbie to me and [Alan] Gordon was just feeling around on top. Overall, we had great movement and I just had the easy job of laying it off for a heck of a finish by Alan."
On the team’s last five games:
"The defense has done a fantastic job. We’ve only allowed one goal in the last three games and that’s impressive. Throughout the season we’ve had a lot of different guys in the lineup, but I think the effort comes with all eleven guys working hard."
On the team’s mentality:
"When we clinched, we said good job to each other, then it was back to business. Our goal goes beyond just making the playoffs. That was our initial goal, in the beginning of the year we wanted to make playoffs, but we also want to win the Supporters’ Shield. First and foremost, we want to win MLS Cup. Those goals are still obtainable and they are still out there, but we have a lot of work to do to get them."
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES GOALKEEPER JON BUSCH
Thoughts on the game:
"It was a very good team effort. We’ve been winning games, but we’ve wanted to get a couple more clean sheets. It was a total team effort, because [Chivas USA] is a very good team. You don’t even look at their record you look at how good they are and they created some good chances again tonight. We were fortunate enough and we played well."
On the team’s confidence:
"Our focus is that Supporters’ Shield, we want that. We are taking it one game at a time and nobody really said anything about clinching. It happened, and we want to keep our feet on the pedal and keep winning games until the end of the regular season."