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Wondolowski strikes twice to lead San Jose Earthquakes past FC Dallas, 2-0

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Chris Wondolowski, seen here in a 2010 match against New York, returned to his Golden Boot-winning form with a pair of goals against FC Dallas. Photo: Joe Nuxoll, centerlinesoccer.com

Chris Wondolowski rebounded from his disappointing opening night in dramatic fashion, scoring twice to lead San Jose to a 2-0 win over FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park.

Following a game that saw him miss three great scoring chances, Wondolowski showed the form that earned him the MLS Golden Boot last season, hitting the back of the net twice before the game was a  half hour old.

"I felt terrible after last week’s game and I thought I could do a lot better than I did last week," Wondolowski said after the match. "I was very frustrated with that, but my teammates had faith in me and I was able to bounce back this week.”

“What’s good about Chris is he doesn’t drop his head," added Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop. "He knows he can finish and he proved it again tonight that he’s one of the top strikers if not finishers in our league. As long as someone scores, and it happens to be Chris right now, we’re fine.”

Fans watching on TV, lingering over the US-Argentina match, would’ve missed his first goal, which came just over four minutes in. Chris Leitch carried the ball into the offense third, and chipped it to Wondolowski inside the penalty area. Wondo calmly chested it down, turned, and hit a dead solid perfect left footed half volley. 1-0, San Jose.

Wondo struck again in the 25th minute. A poor Dallas clearance fell to Joey Gjertsen on the left side of the box, and he lifted a pass to Wondo for a snap header from eight yards out that beat Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman cleanly, well inside the right post.

“I thought my goals today were the product of good team play," he said. "Chris Leitch had a great pass to me on the first goal and Joey Gjertsen had another good ball to me for the second goal. Those passes make my job a lot easier when I’m making those runs into the box.”

The last 12 MLS regular season goals scored by San Jose have come from Wondolowski.

While Wondo dominated the first half, it was goalkeeper Jon Busch who owned the second. In the first half, Dallas did little to threaten the San Jose net; they were called off-sides six times and did not manage a shot on goal. But after intermission, with reigning MLS MVP David Ferreira leading the attack Dallas was often dangerous, and Busch had to make six second half saves to earn the clean sheet.

In the 55th minute Ferreira took the ball to the end line, his cross deflecting to Milton Rodriguez in front of goal. Rodriguez  didn’t get much on the shot, and Busch, diving to his left, was able to push it wide.

At the hour mark, Ferreira split the San Jose defense, rolling a 30 yard pass through to send Rodriguez in 1-on-1 against Busch. Coming off his line, the San Jose goalkeeper was able meet Rodriguez and snuff out his shot 15 yards from goal.

Veteran defender Chris Leitch explained San Jose's approach to shutting down Dallas. "Their whole front four or five are very fluid and David Ferreira is obviously one of their key guys. We just made sure that when he did enter your zone, you chased him out of there as quick as possible. With that said, he’s a very good player and he’s going to get some space occasionally, but I thought we did a good job collectively of keeping track of him and stepping to him when he was in your area.”

Fabian Castillo led the attack in the 74th minute, getting around Ramiro Corrales and charging down the right wing. After a 50 yard run, Castillo played it across to Rodriguez, but his pass was inches too tall and Rodriguez couldn’t get the header down for what could have been a tap in goal.

In the game's dying minutes, a diagonal ball from Zach Loyd reached Ruben Luna for a glancing header from 15 yards. Busch, leaping to his right, pulled it down to preserve the shut out.

“They were down 2-0 at home and we knew they had to press in the second half," said Earthquakes goalkeeper Busch, who recorded his first clean sheet of 2011. "We knew that was going to come and we just did what we needed to do. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective soccer. We dodged some bullets, but everybody did their job. The same goes for me. I didn’t do anything special, I just did my job.”

With Khari Stephenson away on Jamaica national team duty, Simon Dawkins stepped into his midfield spot. The 23 year old on loan from Tottenham was strong from box to box before giving way to defender Ike Opara in the 84th minute.

Steven Lenhart, still recovering from arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage damage in his right knee, did not dress for the match.

This was the first time since their return to MLS that San Jose has beaten Dallas, and evens their record at 1-1-0. Dallas fell to 0-1-1.

With their Star Scorer back on form, the Earthquakes return home to face Seattle next Saturday, a 7:30 kick off at Buck Shaw.

• • •

San Jose Earthquakes (1-1-0) at FC Dallas (0-1-1)
March 26, 2011 – Pizza Hut Park
Attendance: 11,022

Scoring Summary: SJ – Chris Wondolowski (Chris Leitch) 5; SJ – Wondolowski (Joey Gjertsen, Leitch) 23.

Misconduct Summary: None.

San Jose Earthquakes – Jon Busch, Chris Leitch, Jason Hernandez, Brandon McDonald, Ramiro Corrales (Brad Ring 90), Chris Wondolowski, Sam Cronin, Simon Dawkins (Ike Opara 83), Joey Gjertsen (Ellis McLoughlin 73), Bobby Convey, Ryan Johnson.

Statistics: Shots: 6; Shots on Goal: 2; Saves: 6; Fouls: 10; Offsides: 5; Corners: 3.

FC Dallas – Kevin Hartman, Zach Loyd, George John, Jackson Goncalves (Ruben Luna 74), Jair Benitez, Marvin Chavez, Eric Alexander (Eric Avila 62), Daniel Hernandez, Ricardo Villar (Fabian Castillo 57), Milton Rodriguez, David Ferreira.

Statistics: Shots: 19; Shots on Goal: 6; Saves: 0; Fouls: 7; Offsides: 7; Corners: 8.