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CARSON, CA — Would it be a true Earthquakes game if it didn’t end with someone saying “Goonies never say die”? Where would Quakes fans be without a match where they’re sitting on the edge of seats looking at the fresh pile of nail bits? Fortunately for the San Jose faithful, Sunday night’s game was every bit the nail biter as you’d expect from an absolute must win game. After going down to playing with just ten men, San Jose (12-11-8) was able to scrap out a 1-0 win against the Chivas USA (6-17-8) and head home for their next must-win match.
A scoreless first half did not bring many chances for either side. Unfortunately for Chivas USA, the most notable moment in the first half came when San Jose’s Steven Lenhart elbowed the Goats’ Steven Purdy in the face. Once he got up, Purdy looked extremely disorientated and eventually had to be taken to the hospital with a possible facial fracture.
San Jose began the second with an early chance less than a minute in. Steven Beitashour snuck a cross through a flat footed back line, forcing Chivas USA to surrender a corner. Shea Salinas found Lenhart beautifully at the six yard box, who appeared to head the ball to the back of the net cleanly. A questionable foul before the ball crossed the line prevented the Quakes from taking a 1-0 lead. San Jose used their misfortune to light their fires and gain some momentum. The pressure was definitely felt by the Chivas USA defense, as San Jose ended the night with 13 corners.
With 15 minutes left in the game, Interim head coach Mark Watson called upon striker Alan Gordon to bring some magic. The top line now consisted of Gordon, Lenhart, and Chris Wondolowski, who when playing together last year, were next to unstoppable. Seemingly a magnet for theatrics, with just 10 minutes left to play, Lenhart ran into Chivas USA keeper Dan Kennedy on a late challenge and received a second yellow, resulting in a red card. Unfortunately for San Jose, Lenhart will now miss the next match against the Colorado Rapids.
Down a man, San Jose was doing their best to survive this match. But in true Goonie fashion, in the 87th minute, magic struck. Alan Gordon had space and ripped a hard shot from outside the 18 yard box. The shot bounced off Kennedy and Wondolowski was the only one following the shot. Wondo chipped it past Kennedy into the back of the net for what would be the game winning goal. Wondo was ecstatic, “you never know when that chance is going to come… we’ve always had faith… we’re going to come out swinging”.
San Jose has kept their playoff dreams alive. Now with just three games left in the regular season, the Quakes are just one point out of the final post season spot. San Jose now holds sole possession of sixth place with 44 points, just one point behind the LA Galaxy and Colorado Rapids. Almost poetically, the Quakes next two matches are against these Western Conference rivals.
The post season dream will be put to the test once again on Wednesday, October 9th when the Quakes host the Colorado Rapids at 7:30pm PDT.