COMMERCE CITY, Colo.– A late own goal and a stoppage-time penalty from Chris Wondolowski allowed the San Jose Earthquakes to emerge from Dick’s Sporting Goods Park with an unlikely and thrilling 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids Wednesday night.
The Earthquakes netted their fourth stoppage time victory of the season thanks to the 91st minute Wondolowski penalty, just minutes after Rapids Hunter Freeman's own goal had equalized on a bouncing ball in the 83rd.
SJ's Alan Gordon later drew the penalty on Rapids keeper Matt Pickens’ flailing dive at the ball, where the keeper appeared to catch Gordon’s cleat, and US international Wondolowski made no mistake with the subsequent spot kick.
The Rapids will feel robbed for the second straight game after Brian Mullan’s 18th minute header had the home side ahead for the majority of the proceedings, only for two late strikes to provide the unquestionable heartbreak for Oscar Pareja’s men.
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Despite a nearly month-long absence in league play, the Earthquakes dominated the opening quarter hour of the match, though it wouldn’t register on the scoreboard as Pickens made excellent saves on both Victor Bernardez and Simon Dawkins.
But against the run of the visitors’ early dominance, it would be the Rapids who would find the back of the net in the early goings.
With right back Hunter Freeman surging down the right wing, the veteran defender crossed to an open Mullan far-post, and Mullan would make no mistake with Freeman’s pinpoint service, heading to the back post to become the 11th different Rapid to score this season.
The two sides continued to trade blows, and it would Pickens who unveiled the save of his already highlight-ridden season. Steven Lenhart’s point-blank header looked destined for the back of the net, but Pickens improbably got down to his right to push it out at the last second.
The Rapids had the first good chance of the second half as Edu’s header nearly found top corner for the Rapids, but it would be San Jose who’d control the tempo the rest of the way.
In the 68th minute, Pickens was again called on to parry away another Dawkins effort, making yet another save to preserve the clean sheet.
Despite good looks on the other end from Jeff Larentowicz and Omar Cummings, the Rapids couldn’t add to their lead and the missed chances came back to haunt the Rapids.
Though Pickens denied Lenhart point-blank once again, Gordon came crashing in at the far post to put the rebound away, and earned the winning penalty kick seven minutes later. Wondolowski made no mistake, smashing the ball past Pickens for a league-leading 12th goal of the season.
The 6-8-1 Rapids will have ten days before they next host the Portland, while the 9-3-3 Earthquakes hop the Rocky Mountains for a highly-anticipated clash at Real Salt Lake Saturday night.
COL - Brian Mullan 1 (Hunter Freeman 1) 18'
SJ - Own Goal (Hunter Freeman) 83'
SJ - Chris Wondolowski (penalty kick) 92+
SJ - Marvin Chavez (caution) 28'
SJ - Steven Beitashour (caution) 31'
SJ - Victor Bernardez (caution) 47'
COL - Luis Zapata (caution) 54'
COL - Drew Moor (caution) 91'
Colorado Rapids lineup: Matt Pickens, Hunter Freeman, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Luis Zapata, Jeff Larentowicz, Jaime Castrillon (Wells Thompson 89'), Martin Rivero, Brian Mullan, Edu (Kamani Hill 73'), Conor Casey (Omar Cummings 67')
Subs not used: Stew Ceus, Kosuke Kimura, Jamie Smith, Tyrone Marshall
Referee: Sorin Stoica