Earthquakes score game winner on a penalty kick

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One controversial decision.

That’s all the San Jose Earthquakes needed to sneak out of CenturyLink Field with a 1-0 road victory Saturday and hand Sounders FC its first defeat of the season.

The decisive score came after a generous call by referee Mark Kadlecik awarded the visitors a penalty kick in the first half when forward Steven Lenhart made the most of some contact in the penalty box with Seattle’s Marc Burch.

San Jose (3-1) scored in the 24th minute through perennial MVP candidate Chris Wondolowski and held on for its second consecutive shutout victory on the road.

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“From my angle, I didn’t necessarily think it was a PK,” said Seattle coach Sigi Schmid, who told Kadlecik after the game that he needed to watch a replay of the crucial decision.

Upon the urging of its 38,458 fans, Sounders FC (2-1) pressed hard for an equalizer and peppered the goal with 12 second-half shots, but for the first time this season Seattle couldn’t score.

The Earthquakes, particularly goalkeeper Jon Busch and his six saves, had a lot to do with that.

Sounders forward Fredy Montero fired a curling shot in the 84th minute that seemed destined for the corner of the goal until a sprawling fingertip save by Busch just kept it out.

Other chances came from forward David Estrada (51st minute), Montero (70th), defender Zach Scott (70th) and midfielder Alex Caskey (75th), but none got past a San Jose defense that has allowed one goal all season.

Seattle’s own appeals for a penalty kick in the 71st minute were denied when it appeared Estrada slipped in the penalty box.

Overall, the Sounders outshot the Earthquakes 18-12, earned more corner kicks 7-1 and boasted 57.6 percent of the possession.

“It was just unfortunate we couldn’t get one,” said Caskey, who made his debut as a second-half substitute.

Fortunes were reversed for San Jose, none more so than with the penalty kick.

Lenhart got the call and Wondolowski converted calmly past goalkeeper Michael Gspurning for his fourth goal of the season.

Burch took responsibility for the play and said he never should’ve put himself in that position against Lenhart, known around the league for being a pest.

“I went up for a header (moments before) and he gave me a little elbow in the back,” the defender explained, “so he started running around the far post and I just tried to jump into his path, and he sold it pretty well. … Sometimes the ref buys into it and sometimes he doesn’t.”

Schmid, who said he thought the refereeing was inconsistent, said Lenhart initiated the contact.

“That’s Steven’s game and that’s what he does all the time,” said Schmid, who coached Lenhart in 2008 with Columbus. “Then afterward he apologizes.”

The Sounders weren’t willing to lay the blame on the PK and lamented a turnover-filled first half. A strong performance in the second half, even without a goal, restored some confidence.

“Of course we all wanted the season 3-0,” Gspurning said. “We just have to keep working and keep our heads up high. It’s one loss and it’s important to start again with good games in the future.”


• The Sounders travel to D.C. United next for their first MLS road game of the season April 7 at 4:30 p.m.

• Seattle made two changes to its lineup last week: Servando Carrasco replaced injured midfielder Brad Evans (hamstring) and newcomer Christian Sivebaek started in place of Roger Levesque as a wide midfielder. Other Sounders unavailable due to injury included Mauro Rosales (knee), Eddie Johnson (hip) and Adam Johansson (hamstring).

• Sounders FC defender Jeff Parke got his first MLS minutes as a halftime sub for Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, who suffered a pelvic injury. Parke, Seattle’s Defender of the Year in 2011, was benched for the first two games of the season and voiced his displeasure for the decision earlier in the week.

• Forward Sammy Ochoa made his season debut in the second half.

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or On Twitter @joshuamayers.

San Jose 1 0 — 1
Seattle 0 0 — 0

First half — 1, San Jose, Wondolowski 4 (penalty kick), 24th minute. Second half — None. Goalies — San Jose, Jon Busch; Seattle, Michael Gspurning. Shots — San Jose 12, Seattle 18. Shots on goal — San Jose 5, Seattle 6. Saves — San Jose 6, Seattle 4. Fouls — San Jose 15, Seattle 12. Corner kicks — San Jose 1, Seattle 7. Offsides — San Jose 1, Seattle 0. Yellow cards — Alonso, Seattle, 6th; Sivebaek, Seattle, 45th+; Baca, San Jose, 64th; Lenhart, San Jose, 64th; Scott, Seattle, 79th; Gordon, San Jose, 81st. Referee — Mark Kadlecik. Assistant referees — Ian Anderson. James Conlee. 4th official — Ramon Hernandez. A — 38,458.


San Jose — Jon Busch, Ramiro Corrales (Jason Hernandez, 46th), Victor Bernardez, Steven Beitashour, Justin Morrow, Rafael Baca, Sam Cronin, Marvin Chavez (Simon Dawkins, 89th), Shea Salinas, Steven Lenhart (Alan Gordon, 67th), Chris Wondolowski.

Seattle — Michael Gspurning, Marc Burch, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (Jeff Parke, 46th), Patrick Ianni, Zach Scott, Christian Sivebaek (Sammy Ochoa, 62nd), Alvaro Fernandez, Osvaldo Alonso, Servando Carrasco (Alex Caskey, 74th), David Estrada, Fredy Montero.

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