SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Jose Earthquakes made sure Frank Yallop’s 100th MLS regular-season victory would certainly be memorable.
Facing a disappointing draw despite playing a man-up for 60 minutes and 11-on-9 for the final 21, the Quakes exploded in second-half injury time for goals from Simon Dawkins and Chris Wondolowski to secure a 3-1 victory on Saturday against Real Salt Lake that cemented Yallop’s entry into the Triple Digits Club.
Yallop is just the sixth MLS coach to reach 100 wins, joining Sigi Schmid (160), Bruce Arena (131), Bob Bradley (124), Steve Nicol (112) and Dominic Kinnear (102).
But even as his team stood atop the Western Conference standings at 5-1-1, Yallop wouldn’t indulge in a round of gloating.
Full Highlights: SJ 3, RSL 1
“I don’t put a lot into it, to be honest,” Yallop said. “Obviously, they get counted up and it ends up at 100 wins, but I just want to do well for this club. Hopefully I can get a few more and we can make the playoffs.”
Even though Yallop minimized the milestone’s importance, others were happy to pick up the slack when it came to praising the 48-year-old, who coached the Quakes from 2001-'03 and then the LA Galaxy for a season-and-a-half before joining San Jose again when the franchise was reborn as an expansion side in 2008.
“I’m sure it does [mean a lot],” Quakes assistant coach Mark Watson told MLSsoccer.com. “It would mean a lot to any coach. He’s been at it a long time, and he’s been very successful. It’s probably something he never thinks about, but once you get there, it’s a proud moment to have that many wins in a tough league.”
For Wondolowski, who went from unknown to US national team member in the space of two years under Yallop, it was a just reward for the faith his coach showed in him.
“I just feel honored to be a part of this team,” Wondolowski said. “I love playing for him. To a man, we all want him as our coach. We believe in him, we believe in what he does and we believe he can make us better. That’s why I love playing for him.”
While Yallop made tactical decisions that worked Saturday — Dawkins was Yallop’s selection to replace injured Shea Salinas on the left wing, and Steven Lenhart needed just eight minutes as a second-half substitute to draw the night’s second red card on Real Salt Lake’s Jamison Olave — the seeds for the win were planted with all the work Yallop did over the winter along with the rest of San Jose’s brain trust.
The Quakes came into 2012 with their deepest roster since the club’s reboot, and that paid off in spades against Real Salt Lake. San Jose was able to withstand the loss of wingers Salinas (broken left collarbone) and Márvin Chávez (suspension) and defenders Víctor Bernárdez (sprained left knee ligament) and Ramiro Corrales (right calf injury) in the same week and still go toe-to-toe with a team that had been 5-1-3 against the Quakes since 2008.
“This team is built because of John [Doyle, the Quakes’ general manager] and Frank and Mark and the staff, and they need to get the credit for that,” San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch said. “Tonight was a perfect example of them building this team, the depth that we showed tonight.”
To Yallop, though, all that depth is just another reason to deflect attention from win No. 100.
“It’s not just me at all,” Yallop said. “I never want that to be said. I’ve been helped along the way with great players, great [coaching] staff and great support.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. On Twitter: @quakesbeat