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Flash Gordon and the Golden Boot lead the Goonies to another late victory

Following a trend that has defined their 2012 season, the San Jose Earthquakes battled late into another game before completing a 2-1 comeback victory over the Colorado Rapids. A penalty kick goal from MLS goal scoring leader Chris Wondolowski earned the Earthquakes all three points on the night and started off their two game Rocky Mountain road trip on the right foot.

After having their flight to Denver canceled and having to petition the league for a charter flight, the San Jose Earthquakes came into Dick’s Sporting Goods Park hoping that the Colorado Rapids would happily give them three points as restitution for their troubles.

The Quakes last saw MLS action on May 27 in a hard fought second half which resulted in a 2-1 loss against Sporting Kansas City. Although coming off a long three and a half week break from league play, the Quakes came out in the first 15 minutes looking very dangerous and hungry.

Back in blue, healthy and available to play were Victor Bernardez and Shea Salinas, who both endured major injuries on March 14 in a match against the New York Red Bulls. Also suited up, was Quakes star striker Wondolowski, who had missed the last two league games after being called into the U.S. Men’s national team camp. Before the game the Quakes captain turned to twitter answering the looming question on why he wears long sleeves in every MLS match, even in hot weather: “I'm just superstitious I wore long sleeves at the start of 2010 season that went well, been wearing them since.”

With the Quakes normal netminder Jon Busch serving a one game suspension due to an altercation with a ball boy at Livestrong Park on May 27, Generation Adidas goalkeeper David Bingham was given his second MLS start. Quakes fans eagerly hoped he’d mimic his performance against the New England Revolution last season when he notched an assist on Wondolowski’s stellar goal. Better yet, perhaps he could net a goal like he did in a 2011 friendly against English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion.

During the first fifteen minutes, both Bernardez and Simon Dawkins forced Matt Pickens to make a pair of amazing saves. Bernardez, when not venturing forward to take free kicks for the Quakes, was kept busy doing battle with Conor Casey at both ends of the field. Although the Quakes were the ones who looked the most dangerous, it was Colorado who showed up on the scoreboard first just like San Jose’s previous four opponents have in their last four matches.  It was in the 18th minute, when former San Jose Earthquake Brian Mullan headed his first goal of the season right over Bingham’s head and into the far corner of the goal. The opportunity came courtesy of a well delivered cross by Hunter Freeman who earned his first assist of the season.

Soon after the goal, yellow cards started flying from referee Sorin Stoica’s hand, first to Marvin Chavez (28’) and then to Steven Beitashour (31’) both for taking down Luis Zapata on the edge of the box. And in the first half stoppage time, Bernardez got his card for a high boot to Conor Casey. However, Colorado who seemed immune to cards in the first half, were given theirs in the second. First to Zapata (58’) for a studs-up take down of Simon Dawkins and later to Drew Moor (91’) for disagreeing with the referee following the penalty call against his goalkeeping teammate Pickens.

The second half was dominated mainly by Colorado. However, San Jose’s head coach Frank Yallop was not content with a loss tonight and started making offensive substitutes. First he brought Alan “Flash” Gordon into the mix for Rafael Baca. Gordon as a super sub had made big differences in getting the Quakes points in three of their last four matches. Next came attack minded Khari Stephenson on for the holding midfielder Sam Cronin. Finally, Yallop switched to a 3-5-2 lineup with Salinas replacing right back Beitashour.

It took all of nine minutes from the last of the three Earthquakes substitutions for the pieces to fall into place. Salinas crossed a ball into the box seeking out Steven Lenhart’s boot. Matt Pickens saved the striker’s redirected shot, not unlike so many other times that night; however, he couldn’t save the rebound. Gordon, eagerly sensing an opportunity to draw the Quakes level, forced Freeman to boot the ball into the back of his own net in the 83rd minute. This brought the Quakes tally of goals after the 75th minute up to 11 of 28.

Then in the 90th minute, Dawkins slid the ball to a racing Gordon who was ‘taken’ down in the box by Pickens forcing a San Jose penalty kick. Wondolowski stepped up to the spot, and smashed the ball into the top of the net much to the chagrin of the Colorado goalkeeper who happened to guess the correct way.  With his 12th goal of the season, Wondo took sole possession of the top spot in the race for the MLS Golden Boot; as well as, gave the Earthquakes three much needed points on the road to put them back in second place in the league with a game in hand.

Next up, the Quakes will fight Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium for not only the top spot in the Western Conference but also for the front runner’s position in the race for the 2012 Supporter’s Shield.

(Cover photo courtesy of Stuart Berman)

San Jose Earthquakes (9-3-3) at Colorado Rapids (6-8-1)
June 20, 2012 – Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
Attendance: 13,080

Scoring Summary: COL — Brian Mullan (Hunter Freeman) 18; SJ — Hunter Freeman (own goal) 83; SJ — Chris Wondolowski (penalty) 90+2.

Misconduct Summary: SJ — Marvin Chavez (caution) 28; SJ — Steven Beitashour (caution) 31; SJ — Victor Bernardez (caution) 45+2; COL — Luis Zapata (caution) 54; COL — Drew Moor (caution) 90+1.

San Jose Earthquakes — David Bingham, Steven Beitashour (Shea Salinas 75), Victor Bernardez, Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow, Marvin Chavez, Sam Cronin (Khari Stephenson 70), Rafael Baca (Alan Gordon 65), Simon Dawkins, Chris Wondolowski, Steven Lenhart.

Statistics: Total Shots: 16; Shots on Goal: 9; Saves: 4; Fouls: 16; Offside: 7; Corner Kicks: 6.

Colorado Rapids — Matt Pickens, Hunter Freeman, Marvell Wynn, Drew Moor, Luis Zapata, Jeff Larentowicz, Jaime Castrillon (Wells Thompson 90+1), Brian Mullan, Martin Rivero, Conor Casey (Omar Cummings 68), Edu (Kamani Hill 73).

Statistics: Total Shots: 13; Shots on Goal: 5; Saves: 7; Fouls: 13; Offside: 1; Corner Kicks: 5.