San Jose Earthquakes coach Dominic Kinnear was stuck in Bay Area traffic on Wednesday afternoon and his mind began to wonder to the subject of his team’s Major League Soccer matchup with the New York Red Bulls that night.
“There’s no such thing as a bad win,” he thought. It’s a sentiment the Quakes proved in a homely 2-0 win over the Red Bulls. It might have been a scrappy and wholly unconvincing performance from the home side, but where they lacked in style they made up for in grit and resolve. Never mind style points, after three winless matches the Quakes were simply grateful for the vital three points.
“New York does a great job of pressing and I think they made it very difficult for us,” said Quakes captain Chris Wondolowski. “You look at the DC game, I thought we played prettier and got a tie, but I’ll take these games and three points all day.”
Fatai Alashe opened the scoring with a scrappy finish on the brink of the half and Wondolowski bagged the winner on the other side of the break with a lovely header from Shea Salinas’ pinpoint cross. It was Wondo’s fifth goal in six leagues games this season, which takes him top of the MLS goalscoring charts.
“It was kind of funny about how he didn’t score a goal in preseason and everybody said, ‘Are you worried about him?’ And I just said no because I think he has such a short memory and he just wants to score all the time and he wants to do well,” said Quakes coach Dominic Kinnear. “He makes good runs and the main thing is he doesn’t stop believing he’s going to get a chance. Great play by Shea [Salinas], good early ball, good movement by the two forwards. You see it going through his head. You feel confident he’s going to get it on target.”
The goal took the thirty-three-year-old level on fourth with Ante Razov in MLS all-time goalscoring records.
“It’s pretty cool,” Wondolowski said of the record. “Just to be mentioned with some of those names. I remember watching Ante Razov. He was one of the best, a deadly finisher. It’s pretty amazing and a bit surreal. It’s one of those things that’s going to sink in later. I’m very proud of it.”
Kinnear rested Alberto Quintero and Simon Dawkins for Shea Salinas and Matias Perez-Garcia and both replacements dug-in to make bid for the starting position. Salinas set up Wondolowski’s goal and both goals were a result of Garcia’s hustle plays, an aspect of his game that has seldom been seen before.
“I didn’t really know him before he came here,” Kinnear said of Garcia. “I knew he was, from watching him train, technically very, very gifted, probably the most technical player we have on our team. I think the attitude has grown throughout the team that we have to work hard on both sides of the ball and I think he’s showing that. I think he does see that there’s competition around him and it was good for him to make a good impact for us tonight.”
Andres Imperiale stepped in at center-back for Clarence Goodson, who remains out with back troubles. “He’s played really well,” Kinnear told Quakes Talk of Imperiale. “When we spoke to him in preseason we said, ‘Look, we have two good center backs. You can be the third here. You’re definitely going to get your chances.’ And it’s his fourth start already in six and he’s making the most out of it. He’s calm under pressure. He’s a smart defender. He rarely puts a foot wrong on both sides of the ball. I think he’s been a good pickup for us. Definitely say that.”
The Red Bulls have only won one of their first six MLS games this season, but coach Jesse Marsch strongly denied that his tactics have played a role in their recent slump. He admitted, however, that he needs to reassess his options back to front and won’t hesitate to dip his fingers in the upcoming transfer market if need be.
“The game was there for us to take…and I sound like a broken record but when you get in these ruts it feels like a long time,” he said.
The Red Bulls visit the Colorado Rapids on Saturday while the Quakes face the Portland Timbers in what is shaping up to be a tense battle at Providence Park.