He didn’t even start the game, and might not have played at all if not for an injury to teammate Cornell Glen.
But when the Quakes’ Chris Wondolowski did enter last night’s match against Chivas USA, just before halftime, boy did he make the most of it.
Ten minutes after the break, Wondolowski got the ball in the box with his back to goal and was bearhugged to the ground by Chivas defender Michael Umana in what might have been the season’s most clear-cut penalty call (Umana protested anyway, of course).
He rifled the penalty home for his 15th goal of the year, which tied the San Jose club record set by Salvadoran great Ronald Cerritos back in 1999 (when they were known as the Clash).
Just four minutes later, Wondo struck again, on a San Jose counter led by Eduardo, who cut the ball perfectly into No. 8’s path to set up a finish from 14 yards on the right.
Wondolowski rounded off his spectacular evening by turning in Ryan Johnson’s excellent 72nd-minute cross with a leaping side-footed volley (see above) past Chivas keeper Kevin Guppy (who is actually a “pool” keeper, Zach Thornton having been given the night off).
The hat-trick left Wondolowski with 17 goals on the season, tied for the league lead with Edson Buddle (both players have one game remaining), and put him in the lead of the MLS MVP race: Wondolowski has scored the last nine goals by San Jose and more than half of the Quakes 33 goals on the year. Those are some MVP credentials right there.
The win put the Quakes one point ahead of Colorado and two behind Seattle in the playoff standings with one game to play.
Highlights here, and the man of the hour, postgame, here:
Sidenote: Most Unfortunate Quote of the Broadcast, and Possibly the Season, by a San Jose Announcer:
After Wondolowski nearly headed in a cross by Ryan Johnson:
“Wondolowski knows Johnson’s going to service him, and, uh, he goes to the right places.”
Uh, yeah, something like that….