COMMERCE CITY, Colo.– A own goal and a stoppage-time penalty from Chris Wondolowski allowed the San Jose Earthquakes to emerge from Dick’s Sporting Goods Park with an unlikely and thrilling 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids Wednesday night.
The Earthquakes netted their fourth stoppage time victory of the season thanks to the 91st minute Wondolowski penalty, just minutes after pressure from Alan Gordon forced a Hunter Freeman own goal in the 83rd.
Gordon later drew the penalty on Rapids keeper Matt Pickens’ flailing dive at the ball, where the keeper appeared to catch Gordon’s cleat, and US international Wondolowski made no mistake with the subsequent spot kick.
The Rapids will feel robbed for the second straight game after Brian Mullan’s 18th minute header had the home side ahead for the majority of the proceedings, only for two late strikes to provide the unquestionable heartbreak for Oscar Pareja’s men.
Despite a nearly month-long absence in league play, the Earthquakes dominated the opening quarter hour of the match, though it wouldn’t register on the scoreboard as Pickens made excellent saves on both Victor Bernardez and Simon Dawkins.
But against the run of the visitors’ early dominance, it would be the Rapids who would find the back of the net in the early goings.
With right back Hunter Freeman surging down the right wing, the veteran defender crossed to an open Mullan far-post, and Mullan would make no mistake with Freeman’s pinpoint service, heading to the back post to become the 11th different Rapid to score this season.
The two sides continued to trade blows, and it would Pickens who unveiled the save of his already highlight-ridden season. Steven Lenhart’s point-blank header looked destined for the back of the net, but Pickens improbably got down to his right to push it out at the last second.
The Rapids had the first good chance of the second half as Edu’s header nearly found top corner for the Rapids, but it would be San Jose who’d control the tempo the rest of the way.
In the 68th minute, Pickens was again called on to parry away another Dawkins effort, making yet another save to preserve the clean sheet.
Despite good looks on the other end from Jeff Larentowicz and Omar Cummings, the Rapids couldn’t add to their lead and the missed chances came back to haunt the Rapids.
Though Pickens denied Lenhart point-blank once again, Gordon and Freeman came crashing in at the far post, and the rebound caromed off the Rapids defender into the net.
Gordon then earned a penalty after darting behind the Rapids defense and being caught by Pickens. Wondolowski made no mistake, smashing the ball past Pickens for a league-leading 12th goal of the season.
The 6-8-1 Rapids will have ten days before they next host the Portland, while the 9-3-3 Earthquakes hop the Rocky Mountains for a highly-anticipated clash at Real Salt Lake Saturday night.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Alan Gordon||The man just won't stop with the late heorics. His name won't show up on the scoresheet, but without him, the Quakes would be walking away wtih a 1-0 loss.|
|2||Matt Pickens||Ignore the late penalty he gave away. Without his highlight-reel saves, the Quakes would have had a much more comfortable time in this one.|
|3||Brian Mullan||Former Quake had a perfectly-taken goal and was a nusisance all game long|