SANTA CLARA -- Earthquakes players call rookie Adam Jahn "pillow foot" because they say he has the softest feet in the league.
Jahn was no pushover in the Quakes' come-from-behind 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls on Sunday night at Buck Shaw Stadium.
The former Stanford target man scored his first MLS goal in the 83rd minute, then set up the winner by reigning MLS MVP Chris Wondolowski in stoppage time in front of a sellout crowd of 10,525.
"Adam Jahn was the man of the match today. He had such a spark to us," Wondolowski said. "He's been great all year."
In the 92nd minute, Jahn, who is 6-foot-3, leapt for a header that looked golden until New York defender Roy Miller hit the ball with his hand.
A penalty kick was awarded, and Wondolowski's first attempt was saved by Luis Robles. But Miller was called for entering the penalty area too soon on the attempt, and Wondolowski received a second try, which he coolly converted.
Consider it a bravo finish for a makeshift Quakes team playing without injured target men Alan Gordon (ankle, hip) and Steven Lenhart (knee), outside defender Steven Beitashour (sports hernia) and wing Marvin Chavez (knee).
Second-half substitutes Jahn, playmaker Cordell Cato and midfielder Sam Garza appeared to spark the Quakes, who took it up a notch in the final 20 minutes, just as they did last year en route to an MLS Supporters' Shield. New York, with its international cast of stars, wilted in the end.
On Jahn's tying goal, Ramiro Corrales first passed to Sam Cronin in a seam on the left. His deft cross to the far post found Jahn, who closed rapidly and roofed the shot just under the crossbar with an all-out extension. The crowd sprang to life.
"Before I went in, the coaching staff told me to just get into the box and fight for balls," Jahn said. "I noticed a lot of people were making good runs to the near post, so I just peeled around to the back. Sam Cronin played a beautiful ball, and I was just there to tap it in."
Jahn said Gordon and Lenhart came over and gave him hugs and "congrats" after the match.
"I try to model my play after them," Jahn said. "They've been great in helping me develop as a rookie. They're awesome."
The dramatic ending helped the Quakes (1-1-0) avoid back-to-back home loses to open the season, after they lost 2-0 against Real Salt Lake on March 3.
Wondolowski, who tied a league mark with 27 goals last season, was harassed and stymied by a physical Red Bulls defense for the first two-thirds of the match. He received a yellow card in the 41st minute for dissent. The game was sloppy overall as both teams struggled to link passes.
"He's such a competitor," Quakes coach Frank Yallop said of Wondolowski's early frustration. "I've been around Wondo now for years, and he's ultracompetitive. He gets mad when he doesn't help the team out by scoring. ... His aggressions and frustrations turned into good things, because he got the winning goal tonight."
The Red Bulls (0-1-1) scored first on a Quakes defensive breakdown in the 17th minute. Superstar Thierry Henry, fronting two defenders on the left, crossed to the middle, and the ball caromed off the head of Jason Hernandez before finding Eric Alexander on the right. He shot into the far corner for his first goal with the Red Bulls after being acquired from Portland last month.
Yallop, who pushed all the right buttons last season, subbed in Jahn for midfielder Rafael Baca in the 66th minute to beef up the attack. Mission accomplished.
Earthquakes (1-1-0) at Columbus (1-1-0), 2:30 p.m. CSNCA
For a slideshow from Sunday's game, go to www.mercurynews.com/earthquakes