Chris Wondolowski went back to doing what he does best, netting a close-range header to lead the San Jose Earthquakes to a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids in both teams’ season opener.
The goal came just 19 seconds into the second half, as new signing Alberto Quintero took a square pass from Quincy Amarikwa and swung in an inch-perfect cross to Wondolowski, who found enough space between a pair of defenders to head home.
The goal was perhaps the best chance of the game for either side, though Wondolowski had a decent chance to double the lead later in the 72nd minute, while Zac MacMath came up big in the 84th minute to deny substitute Tommy Thompson his first career goal.
A re-tooled Rapids midfield held 58.3% of the possession and enjoyed some good looks at goal, but Quakes goalkeeper David Bingham was equal to all of them. Bingham and San Jose did get a bit of luck after Marco Pappa’s 90th-minute header nicked a Quakes defender and hit the post, but they were able to survive the Colorado onslaught and claim three points.
1. WONDO BEING WONDO: There’s not much more to be said about Chris Wondolowski at this point. He’s been one of the most fearsome scorers in the league for the past six years and got 2016 off on the right foot with a typical Wondo goal. Once again, he managed to slip free of Colorado’s two center backs to nod in the 110th goal of his MLS career to move within four goals of Ante Razov for No. 4 on the all-time MLS scoring chart. Also of note was the contribution of newly-minted signing Alberto Quintero, who assisted on the goal and was one of the Quakes’ bright spots on the day.
2. BINGHAM STANDS TALL: Wondolowski may have provided the deciding goal, but it’s hard to argue against San Jose ‘keeper David Bingham for Man of the Match. He handled everything Colorado threw at him and showed the form that earned him his first USMNT cap last month, finishing with five saves, two punches and one cross capture. His best moment came at the very end of the game as acrobatically tipped over a blast from Eric Miller for a surefire Save of the Week candidate.
3. NEW-LOOK RAPIDS SHOW SPARKS: They may have come away with the L, but Rapids fans will have a few reasons to be optimistic heading into next week’s home opener. Their five-man midfield bossed possession and the team was able to apply sustained, late pressure and generate some quality looks at goal. Former Quake Sam Cronin had a strong outing, and one of Colorado’s best chances of the second half, while new DP signing Shkelzen Gashi – who started on the left wing in Colorado’s 4-2-3-1 – showed some flashes of skill and creativity, but started to look gassed before his 67th-minute substitution.
- SJ: Sunday 3/13 vs. Portland Timbers (7 pm ET, FS1)
- COL: Saturday 3/12 vs. LA Galaxy (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE)