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SANTA CLARA, CA — Win or go home. That thought was on the mind of every person walking into Buck Shaw Stadium on Wednesday night. The San Jose Earthquakes (13-11-8) are no stranger to must-win games, and tonight was the most important of the season. The Quakes hosted the Colorado Rapids (13-10-9) in a game where there only option was to win. A loss or a tie, and playoff hopes would be over. In true goonie fashion, the Quakes pulled out a 1-0 win with a late goal from none other than Chris Wondolowski.
The first half did not see much action. San Jose had the better scoring chances, but Rapids keeper Clint Irwin kept his team in the game. In the second, the Quakes had their best chance in the 64th minute. An explosive counter attack ended with Chris Wondolowski’s point blank shot being denied by defender Drew Moor off the goal line, who’s deflection went straight to Alan Gordon. Gordon’s shot was once again denied by Moor, who managed to clear. You could feel it in the air at Buck Shaw, the Quakes momentum was building.
Wondolowski was denied once again by Irwin in the 69th minute, who made an incredible save laying out and just getting a glove on the ball to send it over the crossbar, resulting in a corner. Seconds later on the corner, Wondo would not be denied. Shea Salinas played a beautiful ball into the mix that found Wondo’s head perfectly, and he sent it past Irwin to give the Quakes a 1-0 lead. Wondo’s goal would eventually be the game winner, and keep the Quakes playoff dream alive for one more day.
San Jose played a great game. Every player seemed to play with an extra intensity that was evident from the first whistle. Alan Gordon played an incredible game, probably one of the best performances of his Quakes career. Gordon had countless chances throughout the night and was instrumental in the counter attack that resulted in San Jose’s goal. The man of the match was awarded to Shea Salinas. His teammates have the utmost faith and respect in his play. Wondo spoke on his teammates corner kick, saying “he’s done that all year… he did it about ten times this game… took us a while to actually finish one. I’m proud of him. He works so hard at it and it’s paying off”.
San Jose now heads to LA carrying the momentum from their last two games. LA is always a tough match, but the Quakes are ready. Salinas expressed his never say die attitude and proves he has his priorities straight, “two matches to go, we’re just going to get three points from both and take this momentum into the playoffs”.
The Quakes, with 47 points, are just one point back from the Galaxy and Rapids, and the fifth and final playoff spot. And you know what they say… Goonies never say die, and until that final whistle, there is no way this team is giving up.