The San Jose Earthquakes ended their 16-game winless streak Saturday in shocking fashion.
Despite giving up a goal in the game’s first 20 seconds, and playing with 10 men for the final 38 minutes, the Quakes defeated the Sounders 3-2 in front of Seattle’s home crowd at CenturyLink Field.
Chris Wondolowski scored goals in both halves for San Jose before defender Victor Bernardez was given a straight red card for reckless challenge. Recently-signed Innocent Emeghara added to the lead in the 70th minute with a superb finish that put the game to rest despite a late Seattle push.
Last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners made their presence felt almost immediately, with Clint Dempsey setting a team record by scoring in the game’s 20th second. Goalkeeper David Bingham was unable to parry Tyrone Mears first time strike to safety, and was left helpless to deal with Dempsey’s close range finish on the rebound.
Already facing the tall task of beating one of the league’s best teams at home, San Jose put themselves in an even deeper hole from the outset.
San Jose showed resolve and struck back quickly, however, when Chris Wondolowski coolly tied the game at 1-1 in the 13th minute. Wondolowski settled a exceptional Marvell Wynne cross with his right knee, only to slam a left-footed shot inside Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei’s right post. The goal came just four minutes after Wondolowski nearly scored on a headed attempt that struck the crossbar.
Following the trend set by Seattle in the first half, the Earthquakes waited a mere three minutes to take the lead back in the second half, when Wondolowski scored his second goal following an embarrassing gaffe from Seattle defender Brad Evans. Evans did not get enough contact on a back header to keeper Stefan Frei, giving Wondo an opening to smash a left-footed shot into the near corner.
The possibility of an improbable win seemed to take a hit in the 52nd minute after Bernardez was given his marching orders following a high challenge on Michael Azira that Referee Baldomero Toledo deemed reckless.
Emeghara saved the day for San Jose with a show-stopping goal in the 70th minute. Emeghara dribbled through two Seattle defenders, played a one-time ball off fellow striker Adam Jahn, then curled a finish into Frei’s far post to give the Quakes a two-goal advantage with 20 minutes remaining.
Seattle made the final moments interesting when Obafemi Martins scored on a tap in in the 84th minute, but ultimately could not salvage a draw.
The Earthquakes (1-0-1) officially open Avaya Stadium next week, hosting the Chicago Fire on Sunday, March 22. The game can be seen on Fox Sports 1 at 4 p.m.