Earthquakes Red Hot Against RapidsCalifornia boys beat Colorado, 4-1, despite Arctic temperatures
by Luke James | Monday, October 08, 2012
The San Jose Earthquakes flew into Colorado for Saturday night’s game sitting high atop the Western Conference with 61 points – three points ahead of Eastern Conference-rivals Sporting Kansas City in the race for the Supporters’ Shield.
San Jose’s playoff place was secured back in September. And even though Colorado’s playoff hopes are over for this year, there’s always team pride to play for regardless of where you are in the standings.
But the Rapids’ passion seemed nonexistent this past Saturday, as the Earthquakes cruised to a 4-1 victory.
The Earthquakes, who have continuously had last-gasp equalizers and winning goals, seemed to rest their nerves a little on Saturday night with early chances. The ball dropped to Marvin Chavez just one minute, 35 seconds into game, and he blasted a laser shot into the net to get the Quakes off to a hot start.
Being that Dick’s Sporting Goods Park was an icy 28 degrees, you might have thought Steven Lenhart’s relentless sprinting after the ball was an attempt to stay warm, if it wasn’t for the fact that he’s been doing it all year. The same was true for the rest of the team, as everyone continued their successes that have made San Jose a team to watch this season.
Colorado reacted well enough to the quick deficit and settled into some good passing moves. But it didn’t last long, as Rafael Baca, in the 20th minute, broke down the left wing and crossed the ball to Chris Wondolowski who put away his 23rd goal of the season. The very next play saw the goal scorer back in defense breaking up a dangerous Colorado attack.
The Rapids began to press San Jose and Stuart Morrow cleared off the line in the 30th minute, with Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch making an explosive dive to save Omar Cummings' goal-bound shot just before halftime.
If Rapids coach Oscar Pareja hoped his team would start the second half better than they had the first, he was certainly disappointed. It took just five minutes for Wondolowski to score his second of the night and move a goal closer to making MLS history. San Jose took the three-goal lead.
Another chance came when Alan Gordon rattled the Rapids woodwork in the 62nd minute with a fine looping volley.
Six minutes later, Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens suffered a groin strain and substitute keeper Steward Ceus came on for his first MLS appearance.
Unfortunately for him, 15 minutes later he was picking the ball out of the back of the net after Wondolowski secured his hat trick. Wondo made a textbook turn on the ball and fired home his 25th goal of the season.
With two games left, Wondolowski needs just three goals to beat Roy Lassiter’s 1996 MLS scoring record for a single regular season (27 goals).
San Jose’s joy was marred in the 90th minute when defender Jason Hernandez was red carded by referee Jose Carlos Rivero for a tackle from behind on Andre Akpan in the penalty box. The Rapids striker buried the subsequent penalty high and right to wrap the game up 4-1 to San Jose. Hernandez will miss the Earthquakes' next game.
NEXT UP: Following the Guinness world record attempt for a groundbreaking on the site of their new stadium, the Earthquakes take on the Los Angeles Galaxy in a home battle at Buck Shaw Stadium, Oct. 21 at 4 p.m.