Biriham Diop and the Kansas City Wizards humbled the San Jose Earthquakes with a dominating win.In the final Major League Soccer regular season match for both the San Jose Earthquakes and Kansas City Wizards, Birahim Diop had arguably his best game of the season for the Wizards, netting three goals in a 4-1 win Saturday night at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City.
For San Jose, it was their last opportunity to shape up before they head to the postseason on Oct. 30, while the Wizards were able to end its 2010 campaign on a high note.
Despite having nothing to play for, the Wizards came out playing hard, and got the first opportunity at goal in just the second minute. Graham Zusi received the ball just outside the box and fired a shot at the Quakes goal, beating Jon Busch, but it dinged the crossbar and ricocheted out.
After another 12 minutes went by with neither team putting together a threatening attack, it was Zusi again who nearly put the Wizards on top. Chance Myers sent a lofted ball across the field in the 14th minute to Zusi who trapped it just outside the box and ripped a shot for the far post that again beat Busch, but went wide of the target.
San Jose, playing in its third game in seven days, began to get into a flow near the half hour mark of the match. But, even with Eric Kronberg making his first start in goal from the Wizards, the Earthquakes didn’t do much to threaten the keeper.
Kansas City eventually put themselves in front in the 36th minute. Jonathan Leathers sent a 50-yard long ball to Birahim Diop. With Earthquake defenders pleading for an offside call, Diop continued to run onto the pass, beating Busch to the loose ball and heading it over him and into the vacant net.
Ryan Johnson got the Earthquakes' first legitimate shot on Kronberg in the 39th minute, winning a 50-50 ball and heading it for the near post, but 26-year-old Wizard keeper made easy work of it.
Diop had another chance in the 40th minute, but Busch stoned him. Kansas City crossed the ball from just outside of the box and Chris Leitch appeared to bat it down with his hands. There was no call, but it caromed to Diop, who settled and hit one for the far post, where Busch pushed it wide.
To start the second half, the Earthquakes made a minor tactical change, moving Geovanni from striker to right midfield, flip-flopping spots with MLS co-leading scorer Chris Wondolowski. The two hooked up in the 48th minute with Wondolowski on the receiving end of a Geovanni cross, but the shot went high of the target.
Kansas City moved up the field as quickly as the Earthquakes chance developed and Myers got free in the box, taking a shot from the right side, but missed just wide of Busch’s goal.
San Jose showed some fatigue, lacking in both tracking back and communication. And in the 60th minute, Diop got his second of the match. Roger Espinoza whipped a cross into the box that Ramiro Corrales attempted to clear out for the Quakes. His clearance, however, was a mere flutter and it went to Diop, who headed it in for a 2-nil lead.
After falling down two goals, the Earthquakes tried to string together some passes to get up the pitch. Wondolowski finished one of those possessions in the 65th minute with a shot from just outside the box that Kronberg made a diving save on to keep San Jose off the board.
However, five minutes later, in the 70th minute, Wondolowski beat Kronberg for his 18th goal of the season, jumping ahead of Edson Buddle of the Los Angeles Galaxy for the MLS Golden Boot. Geovanni got the ball on the left side of the Wizards box and chipped it across to a wide-open Wondolowski who volleyed it into the net, cutting the Wizards' lead in half. Wondolowski’s goal set an MLS record for consecutive goals with a club (10).
After their first tally, San Jose continued to apply pressure on Kronberg’s net with a free kick, two consecutive corners and a run-of-play shot by Bobby Convey, but none of those attempts -- all within the 71st and 72nd minutes -- were defended.
And after holding off the mini Earthquake onslaught, Diop scored his third goal of the match in the 76th minute. Jason Hernandez made a poor clearance from the San Jose backfield, kicking it directly to Craig Rocastle, who lofted a ball into space. Diop ran onto it and lined up a left-footed strike from distance, beating Busch to the far, upper-90 for a 3-1 lead.
Diop’s third goal appeared to deflate the Earthquakes. And the Wizards nearly extended its lead to three goals, but Busch was able to make a reaction save off a free-kick header by Matt Besler in the 82nd minute.
In stoppage time, Jason Hernandez knocked in a ball into his own net for an own goal to wrap up the scoring for Kansas City.
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