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Suspended Quakes captain Chris Wondolowski to join San Jose Ultras in the stands

Wondo earned his first red card in 15 years, so now he’s going to get loud with Quakes fans.

Chris Wondolowski doesn't plan to serve his one-game suspension quietly. On Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Union, the Quakes captain plans to cheer along with the San Jose Ultras. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

SAN JOSE, Calif. — With only three games remaining in the season, the San Jose Earthquakes are in the midst of an epic fight to keep their place above the playoffs line in the Western Conference. How they perform in their upcoming two-game home stand will go a long way to determining whether their campaign continues into the postseason. 

The Quakes currently sit in the seventh and last spot available, level on points with eighth-placed Portland, and also tied to the Timbers in the first two tiebreakers, wins, and goal differential. But San Jose does have possession of the third tiebreaker advantage, total goals scored — a small consolation as the the final push for playoffs approaches.

San Jose will travel north to face the Timbers on the last day of the season — MLS Decision Day — perhaps with a playoffs spot on the line. But the game could be meaningless unless they take care of business this week at Avaya Stadium.

The Philadelphia Union, competing for the top spot in the Eastern Conference visit on Wednesday, while conference rivals the Seattle Sounders arrive on Sunday. Arguably, the Earthquakes will be hosting the two most important games ever to be played at their five-year-old home venue.

San Jose enters the week on a three-game losing streak, having been blanked on their recent road trip that took them to Real Salt Lake, New York City FC, and Atlanta United. In that last game, at Mercedes Benz Stadium on Saturday, the Quakes paid a heavy price in the 3-1 loss, as captain and leading goal scorer Chris Wondolowski and assists leader Cristian Espinoza both saw red and are suspended for the game against the Union. Head coach Matias Almeyda was also tossed from the game in Atlanta, his second ejection of his rookie MLS season.

The absences will certainly be a determinant to an Earthquakes side that desperately needs a win to keep their playoffs hopes alive.

For Wondolowski, who has never received a red card in his entire 15-year MLS career, not having the opportunity to help his team on the field on Wednesday night, especially in the middle of the playoffs chase, is frustrating. So he’s planning to do the next best thing: join the thousands of Quakes fans at Avaya in supporting the team against the Union.

Wondolowski has been honored multiple times by the San Jose Ultras for his dedication to the Earthquakes and his connection to the team’s most ardent fans, so it is little surprise that the MLS all-time goal scorer would choose to stand and cheer behind the goal instead of quietly sit elsewhere in the stadium. What’s yet to be seen is whether Wondo chooses to rip off his shirt, like the Ultras tend to do, when the Quakes score.

His straight red card, earned while already subbed out of the game, came about due to what referees described as “Foul and Abusive Language.” Wondolowski, who also tweeted that his outrage centered on a particularly physical play against teammate Shea Salinas, owned up to the transgression, but certainly didn’t back down from his message. 

The Quakes will likely start Danny Hoesen, last season’s leading scorer, at forward against the Union, with Andy Rios potentially getting the nod to replace Espinoza. The attacking duo, with Valeri “Vako” Qazaishvili and Magnus Eriksson right with them, are now the focus for San Jose, and they’ll be cheered on, up close and personal, by their number one fan.

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