Cristian Espinoza scored his first goal of the season early in the second half, Chris Wondolowski provided the clincher moments after coming on as a substitute, and the San Jose Earthquakes beat the Chicago Fire 2-0 on Sunday night to clinch a spot in the MLS is Back tournament round of 16.
San Jose (2-1-2) clinched the top spot out of Group B after going unbeaten in its three matches in the group stage. San Jose opened with a 0-0 draw against Seattle, before a dramatic 4-3 comeback victory over Vancouver when Shea Salinas scored in the eighth minute of stoppage time for the win.
This time it was Espinoza providing the game-winner in the 56th minute. Midfielder Jackson Yueill found Espinoza free from his defender and Espinoza’s left-footed shot beat Chicago goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm.
Then it was Wondolowski’s turn to add to his all-time record for goals scored in MLS. One minute after coming on as a sub, Wondolowski was unmarked in the penalty area and headed Carlos Fierro’s cross into the net in the 83rd minute. It was his 161st goal in his 364 MLS matches.
San Jose will now get a week off before its round of 16 match on July 27 where it will play one of the third-place group teams that will advance.
Chicago (1-2-1) lost midfielder Luka Stojanovic to an apparent left leg injury late in the first half. The Fire had limited scoring chance all night, their best coming in the 59th minute when Robert Berić’s shot was saved by San Jose goalkeeper Daniel Vega.
Chicago opened the tournament with a surprising 2-1 win over Seattle thanks to Mauricio Pineda’s late winner. The Fire can still advance to the knockout stage with a win over Vancouver in their final group match on Thursday.