MLS

Earthquakes, Shea Salinas pull off most bonkers comeback you'll see in 2020

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Earthquakes, Shea Salinas pull off most bonkers comeback you'll see in 2020

There are absurd comebacks, and then there's what the Earthquakes did against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday during the MLS Is Back Tournament in Orlando, Florida.

Shea Salinas' winning goal in the eighth minute of stoppage time gave the Quakes a 4-3 win. Salinas gathered the ball just in front of the halfway line, and, well, any words I could write about the ensuing solo effort wouldn't do true justice to its bonkers nature.

Just watch for yourself.

San Jose erased a two-goal deficit owed, in large part, to an utterly ridiculous own goal in the 22nd minute and a brutal giveaway from goalkeeper Daniel Vega in the 59th minutes.

Neither of these gaffes were mentioned sooner because, again, they must be seen to be believed.

What was shaping up to be a banner night for the "mLs iS bAcK" crowd turned into one where you couldn't help but earnestly say the league's all-too-on-the-nose tournament name.

It began with the 63rd-minute introductions of Chris Wondolowski (MLS' all-time leading goal-scorer), Carlos Fierro, Danny Hoesen and Salinas off the bench. Wondolowski needed fewer than 10 minutes to cut the Whitecaps' lead in half, adding to his record goal tally with a headed ball that basically missed everything in its path before bouncing off Vancouver defender Ali Adnan's head as it crossed the goal line.

Fewer than 10 minutes later, defender Oswaldo Alanis equalized with a header off a corner kick and sent his teammates into bedlam.

Salinas ultimately capped off the comeback, and a night of unrelenting pressure on the Whitecaps.

A three-goal comeback, with goals from club veterans Wondolowski and Salinas? You could forgive the Earthquakes' social-media team for wanting to party like it was 2012.

Mixing the fundamental weirdness of a tournament behind closed doors at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports complex with the chaotic energy that drove Alan Gordon, Steven Lenhart, Salinas, Wondolowski and Co. to the 2012 Supporters Shield crown is an appealing cocktail in a time (relatively) deprived of live sports.

The Quakes will have a tough time topping Wednesday's win in Sunday's match against the Chicago Fire, but it's OK to admit you'll want to see them try.

Chris Wondolowski Q&A: Earthquakes star could play one more MLS season

Chris Wondolowski Q&A: Earthquakes star could play one more MLS season

Chris Wondolowski is a local treasure. 

Raised in Danville, the striker began his MLS career with San Jose in 2005, and even returned in 2009 after the previous version of the franchise moved to Houston.

Last year, Wondolowski became the league’s all-time leading goal scorer, only made more special by the fact that at 13 years old, he attended the very first MLS match, which just happened to be in San Jose.

NBC Sports California caught up with “Wondo” via FaceTime on Wednesday. 

How does a shortened or canceled MLS season affect what Wondolowski was planning to be his last?
“That’s a very good question. I ran scenarios through my head about how this season was going to go. I thought I hit the best, and the worst. But I did not see this coming, that’s for sure. I would like to leave the door cracked, I guess. This isn’t really how I want to go out.”

On the little-known truth that Wondolowski uses pick-up basketball to stay in shape during the offesasons:
“The jumper is OK. I’m great on the fast-break, and I can “d-up” pretty well. The jumper is all right, I’m more of a Sean Livingston game. More of a facilitator, 3pointers aren’t my strong point.”

On Earthquakes coach Matías Almeyda surprising everyone by shaving his long hair completely off this week:
“I did not see that coming. He had some nice flowing locks and, was very proud fo them. And I thought they’d be there for a little bit. It took me by shock. We were able to send a couple texts, but he’s all about it. Good mustache though, too.

On his experience last September of being suspended for one home match, and watching it from the stands with the Ultras:
“I’ve always said If I wasn’t playing, that’s where I’d be anyways. I do love the game and love this club, and feel that I am one of them, an Ultra. It’s crazy. I didn’t think I knew the songs but all of a sudden, they start singing and I know them all right away.”

[RELATED: Thompson wants fans to focus on coronavirus]

On holding the MLS all-time goal record, and how long it will stand:
“I do hope that it gets smashed, that it’s not even close. So that I’m not thinking about that one [more]  goal I would have liked to get. The other one is that I hope it’s a cool name who gets to pass me. I got to pass Landon Donovan, so I feel horrible for him, because it’s me.”

Earthquakes' Thompson wants focus on coronavirus, not sports right now

Earthquakes' Thompson wants focus on coronavirus, not sports right now

Earthquakes right back Tommy Thompson had an early read on the coronavirus pandemic. But even seeing the entire 11-million population of Wuhan, China on complete lockdown, he didn’t know how or if it would translate to North America or beyond.

“We were all just confused by it,” Thompson told NBC Sports California of discussions with his teammates. “There wasn’t any real indication from the league or management that this would have the potential to cause our league to come to a standstill.”

The Quakes had completed a full training camp, and already played their first two matches when MLS suspended the season in mid-March.

“It’s been bizarre,” Thompson said. “My heart goes out to everyone affected by coronavirus, and at this point, everyone has been affected some way or another.”

Recently as two weeks ago, the MLS had targeted a return for May 10, which might already seem outdated, and distant from life priorities. Thompson says the best approach might be to avoid the highs and lows of over-speculating.

“It’s important for us to focus on the virus and fattening the curve,” Thompson said. “After that, sports will come. Life will return back to normal. It’s important to look forward to that time, but you can’t get too caught up in getting excited or disappointed.”             

In the mean time, the Sacramento native has been keeping busy with two new-found activities: Cooking, and launching his YouTube channel.

He recently uploaded more than 50 soccer trick and instructional videos, specifically aimed at keeping a young audience entertained and developing their skills.

[RELATED: Premier League extends coronavirus stoppage]

“I wanted to challenge kids of the United States to do different skills that I used to work on in the garage of my home,” Thompson said. “I thought now would be the perfect time to communicate that it’s still possible to practice.”

https://twitter.com/tomthom11/status/1246904800303693824

Thompson has seen rewarding growth, from literally zero, to tens of thousands of views in a week.

“It shows that kids need this right now,” Thompson said. “And it makes me excited to see that they’re staying productive by watching, and doing these drills at home.”