The San Jose Earthquakes pulled off an impressive victory against Real Salt Lake, cruising past their closest competitors for the Western Conference summit with a 5-0 home win. Chris Wondolowski made it happen, opening the scoring with a close-range 18th minute header after a game of head pinball in Nick Rimando's penalty area. RSL were relatively toothless throughout the match, and San Jose's strong defending was clearly frustrating the visitors.
That frustration came to a head in the second half, when Kyle Beckerman took offence to Sam Cronin's tackle on Javier Morales, coming in late on the Earthquakes midfielder before stupidly picking a fight with the referee. Allen Chapman had no choice but to show a red card to the RSL captain, and from then on we all knew what would happen.
Alan Gordon doubled the hosts' lead in the 63rd minute, getting a fortunate rebound as Victor Bernardez's header hit the post, then his knee and finally the back of the net. The rout was on. Wondolowski would score two more goals (with Simon Dawkins also netting -- from a Wondolowski cross), grabbing his third career hat trick, before being pulled off in what I'm assuming is some sort of mercy rule-mandated substitution.
San Jose ended up finishing with five goals, although they could easily have had more if they wanted to. This certainly wasn't what Jason Kreis was expecting when he took his team to California, but it's fantastic news for the Earthquakes as they bring their lead at the top of the table to four points.