When Chris Wondolowski is on the penalty spot, he doesn’t care who the goalkeeper is. All the San Jose Earthquakes star forward knows is that he has to beat him.
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Wondolowski scored on a penalty kick midway through the first half, and Jon Busch earned his second straight shutout as the San Jose Earthquakes beat the Seattle Sounders 1-0 on Saturday night.
Wondolowski’s goal was his fourth this season and his third game-winner of the year for the Earthquakes (3-1-0). It also was his fourth against the Sounders, more than any other San Jose player.
The penalty kick was set up when Seattle defender Marc Burch tripped Earthquakes forward Steven Lenhart in the box. Wondolowski drilled the ensuing kick into the back right corner past 6-foot-5 goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.
”It’s a shot from 12 yards away. I’m a forward, I should make it no matter what keeper is in there,” Wondolowski said. ”Any time I take a PK, I’m playing to myself. I don’t necessarily try to play to the keeper. He’s a big guy, though, a bit intimidating. I just try to put my laces to it and put it in the corner.”
Busch made six saves on 18 Seattle shots for his third shutout in four games. He has allowed just one goal this season – and that was a penalty kick in a 1-0 loss to Houston on March 17.
”With the boys I have in front of me, nothing surprises me,” Busch said of the early success in keeping opponents off the board. ”These guys are tremendous. We have so much depth on this team. These guys work their butts off in front of me, so all the credit goes to them.”
The Earthquakes are now in a tie with Real Salt Lake for first place in the Western Conference.
The Sounders (2-1-0) fell short of matching the best-ever start in club history. As an expansion team in 2009, Seattle won its first three games.
”Sometimes, games go like that a little bit,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. ”I didn’t think our first half was outstanding. I thought we created more chances in the second half. We always believe we’re going to score. If we hadn’t created anything, I’d be a lot more worried or a lot more disappointed.”
In fact, the Sounders wound up with six more shots than the Earthquakes. Two of those came within 10 seconds of each other early in the 70th minute. Fredy Montero, playing in the 6-yard box, sent a left-footer goalward that Busch leaped to slap away with his left hand. The rebound went out to Zach Scott at the top of the penalty area, and his shot also was on target, but Busch moved to his left to make the stop.
”Seattle puts you under pressure here,” Earthquakes coach Frank Yalloop said. ”We said we needed to get better at finishing games out and defending as a unit. Victor Bernardez has made a big difference in our back line, and this team is determined not to give up goals.”
Austrian native Gspurning, who replaced retired U.S national team star Kasey Keller in goal for Seattle this season and logged his first MLS shutout on March 23 against Houston, came up with four saves on 12 San Jose shots.
Two of those came before Wondolowski’s penalty kick. First, Gspurning dove onto the ball just outside the left post with Wondolowski poised to shoot it late in the 17th minute. A little more than four minutes later, Lenhart launched a shot from the right side of the 6-yard box which Gspurning grabbed.