Action from the CONCACAF Champions League game between the San Jose Earthquakes (blue) and visiting Heredia on October 23, 2013, at Buck Shaw Stadium, in Santa Clara, California. (Photo: Denis Concordel/widgic.com)
SANTA CLARA, California – A second-half goal by Chris Wondolowski led the San Jose Earthquakes to a 1-0 win over Heredia and a place in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday.
The victory at Buck Shaw Stadium gave the host the top spot in Group 5 on goal difference after all three teams finished on six points.
It was quite a turnaround for the Earthquakes, who opened with the tournament with a pair of 1-0 road losses, to post victories in their last two outings, including a 3-0 triumph over the Impact de Montreal.
As he did throughout the match, Shea Salinas provided the dangerous service, playing a perfect ball to a wide-open Wondolowski at the edge of the six-yard box in the 62nd minute. All the United States international had to do was tap it into the net.
Wondolowski’s second goal of the group stage was the reward for almost constant pressure from the opening kickoff. Needing a win to advance to the knockout stage, San Jose attacked with purpose from the kickoff.
In the sixth minute, Heredia goalkeeper Joseph Calderon couldn’t handle a 17-yard shot from Steven Lenhart and the ball spilled in front to Wondolowski, but his chip went over the crossbar.
In the 28th minute, Clarence Goodson latched onto a downward header following a Shea Salinas corner kick, but Calderon saved his attempt from the edge of the six.
Four minutes into the second half, Calderon dived to his left to parry away a Goodson dipping shot from distance.
Heredia, which started the day behind Montreal on goal difference, needed only a draw to advance for the first time. But the first Guatemalan team to win it opening two Champions League games was unable to break San Jose down in the final half hour.
It appeared Heredia had netted an equalizer with five minutes left in regulation, when Charles Cordova slid an Anderson Andrade cross beyond San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch. The goal disallowed for offside.
Heredia had one last chance with a corner kick in the first minute of second-half stoppage time and threw everyone, including Calderon, into the mix. The ball, however, was cleared out by the San Jose defense.
Later in stoppage time, Goodson was sent off for his second bookable offense, meaning he will miss the first leg of the quarterfinals next year.