Chris Wondolowski’s lone goal on Sunday was enough to propel the San Jose Earthquakes over visiting Sporting Kansas City, keeping the Quakes perfect at Avaya Stadium in the still-young season — it was Wondolowski’s seventh goal in eight matches this season, which paces the league, and his second game-winning-goal of the year.
The score came in the 59th minute, after Simon Dawkins’ met a rough challenge from Sporting KC’s goalkeeper Tim Melia and fell to the turf. The infraction happened around the six-yard area, and sent Wondolowski to the dot for a penalty kick.
“It’s a 12-yard shot and with a one-on-one with the keeper, you should make them.”
San Jose nearly gave up a penalty of their own after a blown call from referee Jair Marrufo in the 55th minute. Sporting midfielder Benny Feilhaber found Dom Dwyer, the team’s leading scorer, with a long ball inside of the box. He was met and tripped by a sliding tackle from center back Andres Imperiale, however, Marrufo allowed played to continue.
During his postgame interview, Sporting head coach Peter Vermes expressed his outrage over the missed call, and thought the situation warranted an even more severe punishment.
“One hundred percent penalty and red card,” Vermes said. “It changes the game.”
Though he was unsure if a match penalty was necessary, Quakes head coach Dominic Kinnear said he did think it was a penalty.
“It looked like a penalty to me. It was a relief that the call went in our favor.”
Imperiale said he’d need to check the replay, but was certain he went straight for the ball with his tackle.
“I think I got the ball when I tackled” him, he said. “One hundred percent I touched the ball.”
Though Wondolowski recognized his squad could have played a much better game, he didn’t think the lack of effort warranted a loss. During the first half, all five of San Jose’s shots were blocked, and by the end of the game, six of their nine total shots had been blocked by KC. As mentioned previously, San Jose is now 4-0-1 on their home field this season.
“Any time you end up with more goals than the other team it is a deserved three points,” he said.
Quakes goalkeeper David Bingham looked as competent as ever, collecting his third shutout of the season. He, too, recognized San Jose’s first-half performance was something to be forgotten, but after regrouping at halftime, they came out reinvigorated and on a mission.
“It’s great when you’re under pressure to survive the storm and then get on the leading foot in the second half,” Bingham said. “Our first half wasn’t up to par and we know that. We came in and regrouped. . . . Our quality was better in the second half.”
Bingham has shown Kinnear he can be relied upon in the past year — he collected a franchise-record 12 shutouts during the 2015 season. After his third shutout on Sunday, his goals-against-average was lowered to 1.25, placing him in the table of top-10 in the league. Bingham said he’s turning up the energy a bit as an audition to represent the U.S. in this summer’s upcoming Copa America tournament, but Kinnear said the 26-year-old is exactly what every head coach in this league wants.
“Can’t say enough good things about David right now,” Kinnear said. “He’s playing really well and bailing us out when we need him to. He’s got great range and when he makes a decision, for the most part, they’re strong, which is what you want from your goalkeeper. I just like the way, any time the ball is near him, you see him coming for the ball, you feel really confident that he’s going to be coming out with it.”