The 2010 MLS scoring champion bagged his first two goals of the season as the Earthquakes hung on to overcome Dallas.
Dallas, for all the good midfield play from David Ferreira and Daniel Hernandez, was dogged by poor finishing and couldn't manage to find the net despite some excellent chances. New Colombian signing Fabian Castillo made his FC Dallas debut off the bench and sparkled at times, but will have to wait to see his efforts rewarded with a win.
With FC Dallas using the early minutes of the game by demonstrating their intent to attack, San Jose managed to land a huge blow just four minutes in. Earthquakes right back Chris Leitch surged forward and dropped a perfectly-placed ball onto Chris Wondolowski's chest. The 2010 MLS Golden Boot winner made no mistake, swiveling and firing on on the half volley to open his 2011 account.
Dallas continued to have the upper edge in possession, with Jair Benitez and Ricardo Villar combining well down the left flank and David Ferreira dictating play in the middle. Ferreira linked with Eric Alexander to send Marvin Chavez through on goal in the 20th minute, but the Honduran international shanked his shot well wide.
Just minutes later, though, Wondolowski made Dallas pay once again. Eric Loyd hauled him down 30 yards from goal. While Wondolowski's initial shot was blocked, Leitch's ball back in was cleared straight to Joey Gjertsen. Gjertsen measured up a cross right to Wondolowski, who evaded Zach Loyd and turned the cross home to double San Jose's advantage.
The Earthquakes were more content to pass around after the second goal while remaining solid without the ball. The Earthquakes' back four put on extremely disciplined performance, frequently catching the Dallas forwards in offside positions. Brandon McDonald was particularly effective in containing Ferreira's advances.
The game became somewhat chippy towards the end of the half, with Simon Dawkins and Daniel Hernandez both going in strong and picking up fouls, but no cards, for their troubles. However, both teams entered the locker rooms without players in the referee's book, but with San Jose holding onto its two-goal lead.
The second half started with a nonstop onslaught from Dallas. David Ferreira was particularly instrumental for the home side and on 53 minutes set up Milton Rodriguez, who missed the target with his header. Two minutes later, Rodriguez forced a fantastic save from Jon Busch, who got down well to tip around his soft, placed shot.
Dallas continued to pressure San Jose as the hour mark passed, with Schellas Hyndman opting to insert 18-year-old Colombian forward Fabian Castillo, whose pace gave the San Jose defense plenty to think about. Rodriguez had perhaps the best chance of the evening after Ferreira sent him through in the 61st minute, but Busch did extremely well to deny the veteran forward in a one-on-one situation.
Castillo unlocked the San Jose defense in the 74th minute with a mazy run, beating three players, but Rodriguez contrived to head it over form point-blank range. Busch marshaled the San Jose defense as Dallas pressed on, and his solid goalkeeping provided a firm foundation for the San Jose defense.
Busch was once again called into action in the 88th minute, when a cross from Marvin Chavez found substitute Ruben Luna, forcing a sprawling save out of the veteran goalkeeper, who managed to hold on to the ball.
San Jose was occasionally able to relieve the pressure with a forward surge, but the team was more disposed towards getting men behind the ball and seeing out the last few minutes. Despite a few dangerously-located free kicks, the Earthquakes defense, reinforced by late substitute Ike Opara, managed to hold on and give the club its first win of the 2011 campaign.
You can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter for more Earthquakes and MLS chatter at @nicholasrosano
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