For 74 minutes, the Republic must have thought that they had booked a ticket to the fifth round of the Open Cup.
And then Wondo happened.
Facing a two-goal deficit, the World Cup veteran snagged a brace in the final 16 minutes of the match, sending it to overtime, and eventually penalties, where the cool heads of the Earthquakes prevailed in front of an announced crowd of 13,196 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose.
Down 3-2 after four rounds of penalties, Sacramento area-native Tommy Thompson coolly dispatched his penalty for the Earthquakes to tie it up, before San Francisco Bay Area-native Emrah Klimenta saw his shot saved for the Republic to send the shootout to sudden death.
The teams traded two penalties before San Jose left back Shaun Francis dispatched his eighth round kick, and Republic left back James Kiffe skied his into the San Jose Ultras section of the crowd to give the home side the victory.
“They played a good game. They’re a good team,” said San Jose head coach Dominic Kinnear. “We knew that coming in. We showed a great amount of fight to get back into the game, and then obviously the penalties were a little bit of a 50-50 one there, but Bryan (Meredith) made a couple good saves.”
Photo: John Todd | Isiphotos | San Jose Earthquakes
The Republic came out unafraid and it was just five minutes into the game when a chipped through ball from Rodrigo Lopez found the streaking Emrah Klimenta, who controlled the ball just inside the box and was fouled by San Jose left back Shaun Francis, forcing the referee to point to the spot.
Lopez coolly stepped up and smashed the ball in the upper right corner to give Sacramento the 1-0 lead sending the roughly 700 Republic fans who made the trip down to San Jose into pandemonium.
Just nine minutes into the second half, that same combination proved lethal as Lopez drove another through ball onto the feet of Klimenta who took the ball down, and casually nutmegged the onrushing Bryan Meredith for the 2-0 lead.
In the 23rd minute, Chris Wondolowski found his way behind the Republic defense, but McLain came out and made a point-blank save to preserve the lead.
Six minutes later, a free kick from Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi found Mark Sherrod unmarked six yards from goal, but the lumbering striker could only head the ball wide.
McLain had to make another big save in the 74th minute when former Republic loanee Mike Fucito rifled a volley at the netminder who deflected the ball over the net.
McLain was finally beaten a few seconds later when a Fucito shot rebounded off him where Wondolowski was on hand to tap the ball in from close range.
Five minutes later, Wondolowski tied the game up when he made a near post run and headed a cross from Marvell Wynne into the back of the net. For Wondolowski it was his third and fourth career Open Cup goals, but it was the first time he had scored in the tournament since he was with the Houston Dynamo in 2006.
Wondolowski nearly completed a hat trick three minutes later, but his left footed shot just missed the upper corner of the net, sending the game into extra time.
“We basically threw it away at the end with a couple of plays, a couple of unfortunate plays, because the game should have been over,” said Republic head coach Preki. “We were up two nothing, but we had chances to make it three and four. But in general, I thought we played like a good team.”
FULL MATCH REPLAY: SACRAMENTO REPUBLIC AT SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES