Chris Wondolowski moved one goal away from joining MLS’ Century Club as the San Jose Earthquakes beat 10-man Columbus Crew SC 2-0 Saturday night.
Wondolowski broke through for his 99th career regular-season MLS goal against a depleted Crew SC side that played with 10 men for almost an hour after Mohammed Saeid’s first-half red card. Shea Salinas added his first goal of 2015 shortly thereafter to extend San Jose’s unbeaten streak to four straight and move the Quakes (5-4-2) into sole possession of fourth place in the Western Conference.
Columbus (4-4-2) remained winless on the road this season, dropping to 0-3-2 away from MAPFRE Stadium.
San Jose, coming off a stretch of pragmatic soccer while claiming five points in three road games, showed more attacking finesse from the outset, connecting on 84 percent of their passes in the first half. The hosts put Columbus under pressure immediately, with Matias Perez Garcia’s searching through ball requiring alert intervention from Hector Jimenez in the third minute.
The visitors’ defense remained poised in the face of San Jose’s attacks. Michael Parkhurst smartly cut out another Perez Garcia lead pass, and then Kei Kamara tracked back to help snuff out what had been a 3-on-2 break.
The Quakes had consecutive chances fizzle out in Columbus’ area in the 26th and 27th minutes, and Crew SC almost took the lead with a well-worked chance in the 32nd. Kamara’s square ball set up Federico Higuain at 10 yards, but San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham stonewalled the attempt.
Columbus’ hopes took a hit a minute later, when Saeid, having already received an early caution, cleaned out Salinas with a hard challenge at midfield. Referee Kevin Stott pulled out yellow again with no hesitation.
Crew SC adjusted well for the remainder of the half, although goalkeeper Steve Clark had to come up with a diving save in the 42nd after Perez Garcia did well to pull a Salinas pass out of his feet and cracked a shot from close range. Clark scrambled to clean up the rebound just before Salinas arrived on the scene.
After intermission, Clark was up to the task again in the 52nd after Perez Garcia picked up a loose ball at the top of the circle.
The Quakes finally found their breakthrough in the 55th with a goal straight off a training-ground exercise. Perez Garcia fed a pass down the edge of the box for Jordan Stewart to run onto. Stewart’s cross found the head of an unmarked Wondolowski just outside the six-yard box, and he bounced a header past the pinned Clark.
The Quakes were in no mood to let up in their first home match since April 11. Salinas worked a give-and-go to create some space inside the Crew SC area, then switched feet with a soft first touch before rifling a right-footed shot past Clark.
Wondolowski had a chance to become just the ninth MLS player with 100 goals when he met a 71st-minute corner kick, but his header went straight to Clark.
San Jose will next welcome Orlando City at Avaya Stadium on May 24, while Columbus return home to host Chicago on Friday.