Tampa Bay Sports Day

It’s more of the same for DC United in 2-0 loss

Chris Wondolowski continued his torrid goal scoring pace with a stunning goal just moments before halftime, following that up with another one early in the second half as the San Jose Earthquakes clinically dismantled futile DC United 2-0. With the win and Kansas City’s 2-1 home loss to Seattle, the Earthquakes clinched a playoff berth.

Both of Wondolowski’s goals came from nearly the same spot on the field and were barely contested. He has six goals in his last five games, eight in his last ten and with this pair, vaults over four players to second in the chase for the Budweiser Golden Boot with 14, just two behind Los Angeles’s Edson Buddle.

The match took a significant turn in just the 8th minute when Jaime Moreno and Brandon McDonald were ejected for exchanging head butts near midfield. During a Troy Perkins goal kick, Moreno had his left arm wrapped around the back of McDonald and as the two jostled for position, apparently head butted the stout defender, who in turn head butted the Bolivian star right back. Referee Alex Prus, after conferring with one the Assistant Referees, concluded that both actions were worthy of immediate red cards.

“Basically I was punched and I pushed him back and he head butted me,” said Moreno. “I would like him to show me what I did, but I got sent off and I didn’t even retaliate. I don’t know what they saw.”

Prus was also the referee two weeks ago when Ben Olsen and Houston coach Dominic Kinnear were ejected for both leaving the technical area to engage each other.

“I didn’t understand why they would have the same referee crew for our game again two weeks later after what went down but whoever it is made that decision and I think tonight you see why you shouldn’t do that,” said Olsen.

While United was the better and more aggressive side in the attacking third throughout the first half, they were still bereft of the closing idea to reward themselves for the hard work. Conversely, San Jose did what good teams do on the road-defend, counter and capitalize on their chances.

“It’s more of the same…The first half was good; the second half wasn’t,” said Olsen. “Regardless of the refereeing, we still have issues. It wasn’t their fault tonight it was ours fouling up two plays again. We have got to learn that every play counts and this league is getting better.”

Wondolowski’s smashing left footed volley was completely against the run of play but served as an eerily typical fate for the languishing home side. Tim Ward’s ball from the right flank floated over Clyde Simms and bounced in front of Jordan Graye, to Wondolowski whose perfectly struck volley just beyond the far corner of the 6-yard box beat Perkins to the upper corner at the near post.

“The first goal comes down to falling asleep; not being aware of the play and not being aware of what’s around us; letting the ball bounce in the box,” said Perkins. “Give him credit, he hits it really well. He puts it in a very tough spot.

“Obviously I am the first person that if I think I can get it I will raise my hand and say I should have got it but I don’t think I had a chance. He puts it in the upper corner and hits it with a lot of pace.”

“He was standing by himself but he was at a pretty bad angle,” added defender Jed Zayner, who shifted to central defense in the absence of Dejan Jakovic and Julius James who were both away on national team duty.

“Clyde was trying to shove off his man pretty good and he was dealing with him and it bounced after Clyde, Jordan maybe could have been closer to Wondowloski a little bit but hands down to Wondolowski and the bomb shot he hit.”

Scott Sealy should have extended the lead just seconds before Prus blew the fateful halftime whistle, wandering into the penalty area but his left footed shot sailed high and wide from 12-yards out.

“In a game like that, you get the first goal, it’s huge. They can just sit back and counter and that’s what they did,” said Zayner. “They stayed at the half line and they sat back and countered when we tried to shove it in there or tried find the entry pass, it’s so much easier when you are one goal up and especially you have nine men so they had the game.”

Wondolowski’s second came off a scramble in United’s box just 10-minutes into the second stanza. Bobby Convey floated a ball from the left channel that was slightly deflected on its way into the crowded penalty area. Perkins did not get enough oomph on his punch attempt to knock it far enough away with the ball finding the alone and omnipresent Wondolowski, who banged it in from near the back side corner of the 6-yard box.

“The second goal, maybe I gotta put more on it with the punch but saying that, I thought I put in the best spot I could have off to the side,” said Perkins. “It took a deflection on the way in and having to change my route to get there but saying that, I just got to do better.”

In the 81st minute, a cheeky little back heel from Eduardo near midfield sprung Brad Ring but his dismal effort from outside of the penalty area missed wide right with United’s defenders in tow. Ring did follow that up however with a deflected shot that dinged the crossbar five minutes later.

Not to be outdone at the other end a minute after that, Pablo Hernandez insistent refusal to shoot with his right foot cost him his chance for his first MLS goal. After two coy dribbles left him a clear shooting channel from some 10-yards out, he inexplicably pulled the ball back to his more comfortable left foot, allowing the reeling San Jose defenders to recuperate and spoil the chance.