CARSON, Calif. -- Chris Wondolowski cashed in a rare error by Dan Kennedy to help the San Jose Earthquakes escape with a thrilling 1-0 victory against pesky Chivas USA on Sunday night at the StubHub Center.
San Jose kept their postseason hopes alive thanks to an opportunistic Wondolowski, who scored in the 87th minute after Kennedy coughed up a seemingly harmless shot by Alan Gordon. The dramatic finish came with the Earthquakes down a man after Steven Lenhart received his second yellow card in the 81st minute following a collision with Kennedy in front of goal.
San Jose (12-11-8), coming off a crucial road victory at Real Salt Lake, managed to secure three more important points in their push for the postseason. They have earned at least one point in nine of their last 11 games.
It appeared that a disallowed goal early in the second half would doom the visitors, but Wondolowski saved the pivotal result. Lenhart found the back of the next two minutes into the second half on a corner kick opportunity, but the go-ahead goal was waved off when head referee Jose Carlos Rivera ruled that Cordell Cato pushed Carlos Borja.
Lenhart was later ejected, but Chivas USA (6-17-8), the only Western Conference team eliminated from playoff contention, were not able to capitalize on the man advantage.
Bryan de la Fuente had the best look of the night for the Rojiblancos in the 86th minute, but his left-footed shot sailed wide. Tristan Bowen also came close to giving the Goats the lead just moments before Lenhart’s ejection, but his long-range missile went over the crossbar.
San Jose earned only their third road victory of the year, though it didn't look like it would turn out that way through large portions of the second half, thanks to some fine work from Kennedy.
The 31-year-old 'keeper did very well to tip over a Cato chance in the 63rd minute, followed that up by denying Wondolowski one-on-one two minutes later and tipped over a Shea Salinas cross in the 68th, but was unable to record his fourth shutout of the season.
The first half was far less eventful, with both sides combining for only three attempts on goal and no shots on target. The visitors had five corner kicks and two free kicks, but Kennedy was never tested.
Chivas USA, already without centerback Carlos Bocanegra (left soleus strain), lost his fill-in Steve Purdy late in the first half following a mid-air collision with Lenhart that saw the Quakes striker pick up his first caution of the game. The injury allowed 20-year-old Jaime Frias to make his MLS debut.
Up next for Earthquakes is an Oct. 9 matchup against fellow playoff contender Colorado in San Jose. Chivas USA will stay in town, but play as the designated road team against the LA Galaxy on Oct. 6.