It’s an inside joke in the San Jose Earthquakes locker room that you don’t want to be the first person to celebrate a goal with Chris Wondolowski. “It might be a punch or it might be a bear hug,” grinned the forward. “I get a little excited.”
Tommy Thompson learned that lesson the hard way after assisting Wondo’s second-half finish against the Columbus Crew on Saturday night. He wheeled around to greet to the goalscorer for a hug but got more than he bargained for as he was tackled to the ground by the momentum of Wondo’s leaping embrace.
“By now I should have known he’d be doing that,” laughed the midfielder. “But it felt good. It was a great moment for the team and a great moment for Wondo and I.”
Wondolowski, for his part, had plenty of reasons to be leaping for joy after a favorable 2-1 victory over the Columbus Crew. The forward made Earthquakes history in the fifty-second minute by becoming the first ever player to play 2,100 minutes for San Jose and marked the occasion with his ninth goal of the season four minutes later, all while leapfrogging the Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers into a playoff position.
The Quakes had the first look of the match as Jackson Yeuill’s through ball put Wondolowski in on goal and the forward’s low volley was parried by Zack Steffen at the near post.
Columbus threatened on numerous occasions with darting runs through the middle, primarily working through Justin Meram. The Iraqi forward nearly set up the opener after beating Imperiale down the right in the thirteenth minute but his low cross trickled tantalizingly across the goalmouth without anybody on hand to convert.
The Quakes enjoyed an extended spell of dominance towards the latter end of the half as Wondolowski headed a towering effort on target, which was tipped wide by Steffen at full-stretch. The goalkeeper was decidedly less confident when he mishandled Nick Lima’s low shot in the thirty-second minute but got away with it as Marco Ureña was muscled off of the rebound.
Their pressure was rewarded four minutes from the break when Shea Salinas slipped Ureña in down the left for the Costa Rican forward to cut back inside and tuck a low finish into the far post.
Wondolowski gave the Quakes a comfortable 2-0 lead early in the second period but Columbus clawed one back through former Quake Adam Jahn with thirteen minutes to go. Although Columbus continued to knock on the door as Artur’s long-range bullet forced David Bingham into a smart stop, the Quakes applied their own counter-pressure as well. They should have buried the match as Vako hit the post and Thompson smacked the crossbar but they were made to work for the three points until the very death.