SANTA CLARA, Calif. — One goal back, one game to play.
San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski moved to within one goal of tying the MLS’ all-time single-season scoring mark, heading home his 26th of the season to force a 2-2 tie against the LA Galaxy on Sundayat Buck Shaw Stadium.
Wondolowski, who also hit the post twice in as many minutes during the second half, needs two goals next weekend at Portland to beat the current mark of 27 goals, set by Tampa Bay’s Roy Lassiter in 1996.
Wondolowski moved into a tie for second place on the league’s all-time scoring list, matching the 26 goals tallied by Stern John for Columbus in 1998 and Mamadou Diallo for Tampa Bay in 2000.
Robbie Keane scored his 12th goal in 15 matches and Edson Buddle, making his first start since since May 26, nodded in his third of the season to stake the Galaxy to a pair of second-half leads.
But Marvin Chávez curled home a beautiful free kick, and Wondolowski finally broke through after being seemingly stymied by the woodwork.
The Quakes (19-6-8), who had already clinched the Supporters’ Shield by virtue of Sporting Kansas City’s tie against New York on Saturday, extended their unbeaten streak at Buck Shaw Stadium to 18 matches, moving to 11-0-7 since Aug. 13, 2011. San Jose are unbeaten in eight matches overall.
The result, coupled with Seattle's win over FC Dallas later Sunday night, means the Galaxy (15-12-6) are assured of finishing fourth in the Western Conference, and thus will have to host a first-round knockout match against Vancouver.
Even without stars David Beckham (sprained left ankle) and Landon Donovan (left knee bone bruise), the Galaxy dominated the first half, outshooting San Jose 11-2 and forcing a pair of sliding saves by Quakes keeper Jon Busch.
LA played a fast-paced passing game that repeatedly laid bare San Jose’s defenses with deft through balls. The attack was keyed by Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas in central midfield, with Keane often dropping back to sit in dangerous space between the Quakes’ two back rows.
San Jose righted the ship at halftime and came out reinvigorated on the attack. Wondolowski cracked a left-footed shot off the far post in the 49th minute, then hit the same woodwork a minute later, getting free to put his head to a Chávez corner.
The Quakes had three chances in the 51st minute, thanks to a wild youth-soccer-style goalmouth scramble off another corner. Ramiro Corrales pinged the post, Wondolowski’s short-range attempt was partially cleared and Rafa Baca’s stinging volley from the penalty box’s edge went straight to LA goalkeeper Josh Saunders.
LA grabbed back the momentum in the 59th with a play started and finished by Keane. The Irish international sprung Buddle loose on the left wing, and the return cross bounced off two Quakes defenders and dropped down for Keane to jam home at the edge of the six-yard box.
San Jose responded in the 61st minute with a beautiful 25-yard free kick from Chaáez, who bent his effort over the wall and tucked it just inside the near post.
Buddle outjumped Víctor Bernárdez in the 69th minute to knock home a relatively simple header off Sean Franklin’s deep right-wing cross.
But the Quakes tied things up with another set-piece strike in the 73rd minute. Chávez delivered a corner into a teeming Galaxy box, where Wondolowski conjured up a diving header for his eighth goal in six matches.
San Jose wrap up their regular season at Portland on Oct. 28, while the Galaxy close against Seattle a day later.