Struggling to put away shots, the San Jose Earthquakes came home after a demoralizing tie Wednesday at Vancouver to earn a dominating 3-0 win Saturday night vs. Columbus.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- It took nine matches, but the San Jose Earthquakes got out of a goal scoring funk. In front of the 9,142 faithful, the Earthquakes (2-4-3, 9 pts) rolled past the Columbus Crew (3-2-4, 13 pts) at Buck Shaw Stadium, 3-0, on Saturday night.
Both sides came out with hard-nosed defenses. In fact, it only took 10 seconds before former Crew member Steven Lenhart was dropped to the turf courtesy of Dilly Duka. Despite Columbus’ best effort to make the Earthquakes intimidated, the home side posed the best threat in the early going.
After Chris Wondolowski missed burying a ball just inside the post in the third minute, the Quakes followed it up with a perfectly executed run up the right flank in the ninth minute. Joey Gjertsen sent a long ball to Khari Stephenson, who back heeled a ball to the oncoming Chris Leitch. With time and space to roam just outside the box Leitch elected to play it back to Stephenson, whose shot was easily gobbled up by William Hesmer.
Defense was the story for the first half, with neither team giving its opponent a quality chance at goal. However, in the 44th minute, Wondolowski got by his marker with a nifty change-of-pace maneuver. San Jose’s captain for the night sprinted with the ball into the box and fired a low liner for the far post that Hesmer blocked away from the line, and his defenders cleared it away from danger.
Outside of back-to-back corner attempts in the 18th minute by the Crew, the first half’s possession was controlled by San Jose, but with nothing to show for the efforts. Defensively, San Jose’s backline of Leitch, Jason Hernandez, Brandon McDonald and Bobby Convey shut down the three striker formation the Crew put out there, Duka, Emilio Renteria and Robbie Rogers.
San Jose took its strong play and enhanced on it in the early going of the second half. Brad Ring faked out his man to free himself in the center of the field. After opening up space, he sent a long ball to Ryan Johnson on the left flank, where he settled the ball and whipped in a cross at the top of the six. Wondolowski ran onto the cross and buried it in the side netting for his fifth goal of the season.
Lenhart managed to get some personal satisfaction, scoring against his old mates in the 59th minute to give his side a two goal edge. After Johnson set up the play, getting into the offensive third and earning his club a corner, Convey sent in the corner to the center of the box where the former Crew man buried it with his head past Hesmer.
And the goals kept coming.
Less than three minutes after Lenhart’s goal, Stephenson fired what surely will be in the running for MLS Goal of the Week. Convey passed a ball to Lenhart, who dummied the ball through his legs to the Jamaican international in the 62nd minute. Standing about 35 yards from goal, Stephenson turned with the ball, took one touch and unloaded a shot that whizzed by Hesmer into the upper 90 for the goal.
It was all but a formality in the final 28 minutes. Not even a straight red card -- to Brandon McDonald in the 79th minute -- putting the Earthquakes a man down helped the Crew get quality chances on goal. San Jose controlled play the rest of the way and won going away.
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