It took three goals and some answered prayers from the soccer gods, but by the final whistle, the Quakes made it to the Promised Land of the MLS Cup playoffs. Forwards Danny Hoesen, Chris Wondolowski, and Marco Urena all scored to ensure a Quakes 3-2 victory versus the visiting Minnesota United. The win kept the Quakes above Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas for the sixth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
Securing the three points was not easy, as Minnesota was able to erase the Quakes’ lead twice over 80 minutes. Hoesen began the scoring on a breakaway at 15′. Minnesota’s first equalizer came on a Jerome Thiessen shot from outside the box to the far corner, beating Quakes ‘keeper Andrew Tarbell at 37′.
After the half, Wondolowski put the home side up via a brilliant through-ball from Hoesen at 55’. Fans could feel their thirst for playoffs–caused by four years of playoff drought–being quenched with each tick of the clock.
Almost on queue, and in what could have been the perfect microcosm of San Jose’s season, Hoesen was subbed off for the shorter forward Quincy Amarikwa at 81′, rather than for a defender, such as Andres Imperiale. The substitution was a disaster as Francisco Calvo scored the second equalizer of the match off a corner from Johan Venegas once play resumed, leaving most of Avaya Stadium breathless and flabbergasted. In an instant, clock ticks went from water drops on a parched playoff tongue to lemon juice on an open playoff wound.
With their backs to the wall, San Jose had 10 minutes to muster one more goal. Finally, in do-or-die stoppage time, the Quakes managed to rekindle the Goonie Time magic of 2012 as a Quincy Amarikwa shot was blocked by Minnesota ‘keeper Bobby Shuttleworth, but the rebound trickled across the net to Wondolowski. Wondo was able to play the ball back to a waiting Marco Urena for the tap-in game-winner at 90+3′.
34-year-old Wondo was a beast: seven shots, three shots on goal, two key passes, a goal, and an assist.
Quakes defensive mid Darwin Ceren played possessed: six tackles, 10 out of 10 duels won, two interceptions, three key passes, and six accurate long-balls while completing over 93% of his passes.
The goal will certainly go down as one of the most memorable in San Jose’s history as it opened the playoff door for the first time since that Goonie season of 2012. Now Quakes fans are wondering: could there be more Goonie magic in Quakes’ playoff future?
The Quakes will play Vancouver in BC Place on Wednesday night at 7:30pm. The winner will then play a home-and-away series versus the first-place Portland Timbers. There will be a viewing party for the game at the San Pedro Square Market.