Chris Wondolowski scored two goals in the San Jose Earthquakes’ 3-2 win over the LA Galaxy in the 2017 US Open Cup Quarterfinals. Photo: ISI Photos | San Jose Earthquakes
The San Jose Earthquakes were able to overcome an early one-goal deficit to the Los Angeles Galaxy to win 3-2 and advance to the US Open Cup Semifinals for just the second time in club history. They were led by captain Chris Wondolowski who scored two of San Jose’s three goals to give them their first-ever win over their California Clasico rivals.
With the win, the Earthquakes advance to the Semifinals for the first time since 2004 as the club seeks its first US Open Cup title. They will play the winner of Sporting Kansas City and FC Dallas. The home team will be determined after the Quarterfinals are complete.
The Galaxy opened the scoring in the 3rd minute of the match when Jaime Villarreal played in a corner kick and found the rising head of Jelle Van Damme, who powered it home to give the Galaxy a 1-0 lead.
“You know the guy is one of the best in the league at what he does on set pieces,” said Earthquakes’ head coach Chris Leitch about the goal.
After going down early, the Quakes seemed to wake up and really start taking the game to their opponent. It wasn’t long before they were creating chances of their own and were able to find the equalizer.
Wondolowski, who has scored numerous goals against the Galaxy over the years, found the back of the net for the first time in the 16th minute to draw the scores level at one a piece. He received a pass at the top of the box, just outside the penalty area, he put the ball to his left foot and fired a shot toward goal. The strike wasn’t the hardest shot of his career, but it was just enough to beat Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Rowe who dove to his right unsuccessfully. It wasn’t the most spectacular finish, but he did what he needed to do. “He puts on frame which he does every single time [and it] goes in,” said Leitch about the goal. San Jose continued to take the game to their rivals, creating several more dangerous opportunities in the first half. Jahmir Hyka hit the cross bar off a clever back heel attempt, before Nick Lima turned and fired his shot just wide minutes later. The best chance for San Jose to take the lead in the first half came when Nick Lima played in a perfect cross to Hyka who missed the target somehow from point blank range as the half finished 1-1.
The Earthquakes would come out of the locker room with a fast start. Six minutes into the second half, Tommy Thompson found Wondolowski for the second time as he drove a cross into the box that found the head of the US international who beat the keeper to give San Jose the lead. It was Wondo’s sixth career US Open Cup goal, and his fourth for the Earthquakes, which ties him with Ronald Cerritos for the club record.
Danny Hoesen of the San Jose Earthquakes strikes a pose after scoring the third goal of the game (his second of the tournament) against the LA Galaxy in the Quarterfinals of the 2017 US Open Cup. Photo: ISI Photos | San Jose Earthquakes
“Two goals is what the guy does,” said Leitch about his captain. “It’s really good to see your club captain be the leader on the field and get it done, but then in the locker room, in the community and for the organization, you can’t ask for a thing more out of what Wondolowski brings.”
Wondolowski, who normally wears the No. 8 shirt for the Quakes, was wearing No. 38, in honor of teammate Mathias Silva, who is recovering from an incident where he nearly drowned during a Fourth of July gathering. Silva recently emerged from a coma and is on the path to recovery.
The San Jose head coach was also happy with the play of Thompson who provided the assist on each of the first two goals.
“He’s in a creative attacking role. I hope he’s loose. I hope he’s creative, and he’s picking his times to take risks. That is what we want,” said Leitch.
The Earthquakes would add an insurance goal when Danny Hoesen found himself on the breakaway on the right wing in the 62nd minute and beat Rowe, to make the score 3-1. It was the 50th US Open Cup goal in Earthquakes history.
The Galaxy pushed hard to get themselves back into the match after going down a second goal. They were able to get one goal back in the 84th minute when Ariel Lassiter’s shot rebounded off Jackson Yueill before bouncing off goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell and into the net for an own goal. However, this would not be enough as the San Jose Earthquakes were able to beat their rivals for the first time ever in this competition. (1-4-1, 0-1 PK)
“We’ve won a couple of these US Open Cup games. They are important. It’s an opportunity to win a trophy for this organization. It’s an opportunity to play [CONCACAF] Champions League,” said Leitch about the importance of the Open Cup. “I don’t know a single guy in that locker room that doesn’t enjoy winning and doesn’t enjoy the idea of winning a trophy, and we are two games away from that.”
With the victory, the Quakes move to 14-10-6 (3-3 PK) all time in US Open Cup Play and 7-5-2 (1-1 PK) at home. With just one more victory, they can reach the final of the Cup for the first time in the club’s history. They also broke the Club’s attendance record for the tournament with 14,056 at Avaya on Monday night. The Quakes will play the winner of the FC Dallas and Sporting Kansas City match for the right to go to the final.