CARSON, Calif. – Chris Wondolowski and Alan Gordon broke up a close game, scoring nine minutes apart to help give the San Jose Earthquakes a comfortable 2-0 victory over Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center on Saturday.
Wondolowski converted a controversial penalty kick five minutes before the intermission, a call which led to Robin Fraser’s ejection. The Chivas boss was dismissed on the way to the locker room after the first half ended for arguing with the referee.
San Jose’s victory pushed their edge atop the Western Conference to eight points. With Seattle’s draw in Portland earlier in the day, the Quakes have 56 points to Seattle’s 48. Chivas USA, meanwhile, now are even with Portland on 28 points on the other end of the Western table.
The Goats played well early on and put themselves in positions to do damage to San Jose. The hosts had five attempts on goal, the best of which came in the 23rd minute. Nick LaBrocca found Casey Townsend in the center of the penalty area and Townsend snapped a header on goal, but San Jose’s Jon Busch quickly sprawled to his left and knocked the ball away.
San Jose weathered the first-half storm and then were on the receiving end of some positive communication by the officiating crew. In the 39th minute, San Jose’s Gordon was elbowed by Chivas defender John Valencia inside the box as the Quakes were attacking. After referee Chris Penso blew the whistle, he conferred with assistant referee George Gansner. Penso then pointed to the spot and awarded a penalty.
Valencia and Shalrie Joseph each picked up yellow cards before Wondolowski buried the spot kick for his league-leading 19th goal of the season, a new career high.
With Fraser gone to start the second half, assistant Greg Vanney took over the coaching duties. San Jose, meanwhile, found a quick goal to take the bite out of Chivas. Justin Morrow slipped the ball across the penalty area towards Wondolowski, who laid the ball off to Gordon. The ex-Chivas striker powered a shot past an off-balance Dan Kennedy as San Jose doubled their advantage.
Chivas could not do much to get back into the match and have now been shut out in eight of 14 home games. With the loss, the Rojiblancos drop to 7-13-7 and are now winless in seven. They now travel to a midweek date at Columbus on Wednesday.
San Jose, meanwhile, improve to 17-6-5. They next return home to host Portland on Wednesday.