Chris Wondolowski is scoring goals in bunches again, and as a result, the San Jose Earthquakes are once again winning at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Wondolowski tallied for the third time in four matches on Saturday, opening the door on a 3-0 San Jose rout of the Columbus Crew which also featured former Crew forward Steven Lenhart’s first goal as a member of the Quakes.
Khari Stephenson drilled a 25-yard rocket past Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer to seal San Jose’s first victory at Buck Shaw Stadium this year. It was also San Jose’s first win in seven matches, a drought that stretched back to March 26.
The Quakes saw the game out despite losing Brandon McDonald to a straight red card in the 79th minute after an off-the-ball incident with Columbus forward Tommy Heinemann.
The result emphatically snapped Columbus’ seven-match unbeaten streak and left the Crew a bit shellshocked at allowing three goals in the space of 12 minutes.
Columbus were keenly aware of the presence of Lenhart, who had been a member of the Crew since joining MLS out of Azusa Pacific in 2008. Perhaps the Crew were too aware in the 50th minute, when Lenhart occupied the attention of Columbus center backs Chad Marshall and Julius James on Ryan Johnson’s cross from the left wing.
That allowed 2010 Golden Boot winner Wondolowski -- who moved up to third in this year’s scoring standings, behind only D.C. United’s Charlie Davies and LA Galaxy's Landon Donovan -- to sneak past Columbus left back Rich Balchan and volley the ball home from seven yards out.
Lenhart, who looked every inch the 6-foot-1 target man in his best game by far with San Jose, tallied in the 59th by driving past Balchan and powering home a header off Joey Gjertsen’s corner -- with an apparent deflection off McDonald’s back.
Stephenson finished things off in the 62nd minute when he converted off a feed from Bobby Convey and Lenhart.
Columbus couldn’t get much going, even after McDonald’s departure, bottled up by a Quakes defense that recorded only its second clean sheet on the year.
Coming off a short rest after tying 1-1 in Vancouver on Wednesday, San Jose made six changes to their lineup, including a wholesale exchange of their backline. Chris Leitch (right) and Jason Hernandez and McDonald (center) all returned to their familiar spots, while Convey appeared at left back for the first time this season.
The Crew, meanwhile, made no changes from the group that tied Seattle 1-1 last weekend, and were once again held scoreless in the first half. This time, however, Columbus -- which has scored all eight of its goals after intermission -- was unable to conjure any second-half magic.
SJ -- Chris Wondolowski 5 (Ryan Johnson 2, Brad Ring 1) 50
SJ -- Steven Lenhart 1 (Joey Gjertsen 2) 59
SJ -- Khari Stephenson 2 (Steven Lenhart 1, Bobby Convey 2) 62
SJ -- Brad Ring (caution; Reckless Tackle) 24
CLB -- Tommy Heinemann (caution; Reckless Foul) 67
SJ -- Jason Hernandez (caution; Reckless Tackle) 70
SJ -- Ryan Johnson (caution; Reckless Foul) 74
SJ -- Brandon McDonald (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 79
Columbus Crew -- William Hesmer, Sebastian Miranda, Julius James, Chad Marshall, Rich Balchan (Andres Mendoza 85), Eddie Gaven, Kevin Burns, Dejan Rusmir (Emmanuel Ekpo 76), Dilly Duka (Tommy Heinemann 66), Emilio Renteria, Robbie Rogers.
Substitutes Not Used: Jeff Cunningham, Josh Gardner, Andy Iro, Andy Gruenebaum.
San Jose Earthquakes -- Jon Busch, Chris Leitch, Jason Hernandez, Brandon McDonald, Bobby Convey, Joey Gjertsen (Anthony Ampaipitakwong 61), Brad Ring (Sam Cronin 72), Khari Stephenson, Ryan Johnson, Steven Lenhart, Chris Wondolowski (Ike Opara 82).
Substitutes Not Used: Steven Beitashour, Ramiro Corrales, Ellis McLoughlin, Andrew Weber.
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee's Assistants: Greg Barkey; Jeff Hosking
4th Official: Allen Chapman
Weather: Cloudy and 53 degrees