October 6, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Earthquakes starting eleven pose for a photo before the match against the New York Red Bulls at Avaya Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Despite Chris Wondolowski scoring his 10th goal of the season, extending his MLS record to nine consecutive seasons with double-digit goals, the San Jose Earthquakes were overmatched by the New York Red Bulls and lost 3-1 in front of an announced crowd of 17,241 at Avaya Stadium Saturday night.
New York (20-7-5) built a comfortable three-goal lead midway through the second half. Alex Muyl, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Aaron Long found the back of the net for Red Bulls. Wondolowski scored a late consolation goal, the 144th of his career, to bring the Quakes back within two, but the visitors saw out the game to keep pace with Atlanta United in the Supporters’ Shield race, remaining one point behind the leaders.
“We are genuinely taking it one game at a time, but it’s no secret, we had to get a result to keep pace,” Red Bulls coach Chris Armas said. “Winning games and going after trophies is important, and we are right there. We have put ourselves in a good spot. There’s a couple trophies left, and the Supporters’ Shield is the first one.”
Steve Ralston, the Earthquakes’ interim head coach, elected to start with Wondolowski on the bench, delaying the forward’s chase of the all-time MLS scoring record. He entered the night two goals behind record-holder Landon Donovan and now has two games left this season to catch the MLS legend.
“I want him to get the record, but I still have to coach the team and juggle, balance 27 guys,” Ralston said. “Wondo is going to play again in these next couple games, and he’s going to get more chances to score.”
From the opening whistle, the Red Bulls dictated the tempo against the last-place Quakes. The visitors pinged the ball around with ease. They should have taken an early lead, but poor finishing kept them off the scoreboard.
New York finally broke through in the 29th minute, when Muyl managed to stay onside ahead of a Michael Murillo shot that was deflected by goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski, right into his path. The midfielder tapped home from close distance for his third goal of the season.
The Red Bulls doubled their lead three minutes later, when Wright-Phillips worked some solo magic to net the 106th goal of his MLS career and became the first player in league history to score 20 r more goals in three seasons. After redirecting a free kick off the far post, Wright-Phillips had the rebound fall fortuitously at his feet at the near post, and the striker made no mistake from a tight angle to make the score 2-0.
“I wanted the header to go in,” Wright-Phillips said jokingly. “I was just trying to get into a decent position in the box and get head on something, and it came back to me, so I just tried to put it on target.”
The Earthquakes (4-20-8), stunned from the sequence, nearly gave up a third goal prior to the halftime whistle, but they were lucky to survive to intermission down only two.
Whereas the Red Bulls offense owned the first half, their defense stepped up to center stage in the second. Already enjoying a shutout performance, a pair of New York defenders extended the lead to 3-0 in the 50th minute.
On a corner kick delivery, Tim Parker deftly back-heeled the ball into the mixer for Long to head home from the center of the box. It was a pretty sequence that even drew mild applause from the pro-Quakes crowd.
In the 54th minute, the Earthquakes made their first substitution and Wondolowski entered the game for Valeri Qazaishvili. Just three goals away from setting the MLS goal scoring record, the longtime captain quickly took his place at forward and San Jose made him the focus of nearly every offensive sequence.
Wondolowski had a brilliant chance to get his 144th career goal in the 70th minute, as Jackson Yueill eluded the effort of Luis Robles to lob a ball into the forward’s path. But just as he took his shot, Kemar Lawrence got a foot to the ball and deflected it wide off the post.
“I knew Lawrence was coming in, so I cut my angle a little shallow,” Wondolowski said. “Probably should have rounded it a little bit and given myself more of the goal to shoot at, but I missed that, and I’ve got to finish that.”
The captain didn’t miss in the 83rd minute. Florian Jungwirth delivered a perfect free kick into the box for Wondolowski to head home past Robles. It was a classic finish from Wondolowski, and it moved him one goal away from matching the record.
“What a ball by Flo,” Wondolowski said. “It’s something we’ve been working on, me and Anibal Godoy having different runs, and he helped me out, and I was able to finish it.”
New York was stingy the rest of the way, and finished out the victory. With the loss, their sixth in a row, the Quakes are guaranteed to finish the season with the franchise’s lowest points total ever, regardless of their results in the last two games of the campaign against the Colorado Rapids and Seattle Sounders.