SANTA CLARA -- In a season of missed opportunities, the Earthquakes finally found the target in a 3-0 win over the Montreal Impact on Tuesday night in the CONCACAF Champions League at Buck Shaw Stadium.

Chris Wondolowski, Marvin Chavez and Shea Salinas scored as the Quakes improved to 1-2 in Group 5 play. A sparse crowd watched as goalkeeper David Bingham, a former Cal star filling in for Jon Busch, worked the shutout.

A loss or draw would have ended the Quakes' chances of advancing to the knockout stage of the regional competition.

Instead, they have a chance to move on with a win over CD Heredia-Guatemala (2-0) on Oct. 23 at Buck Shaw Stadium, coupled with a Montreal win over visiting Heredia on Sept. 24. Only the group winner will advance.

"This team has always had great character, and you really see that when there's tough times," Quakes interim coach Mark Watson said. "It's been a tough year for us. It's a proud group, but they never stop working. They never stop fighting. Tonight was a testament of that."

The three-goal margin of victory was huge because if all three teams finish with 2-2 records in the group, the first tiebreaker is overall goal-differential.

"Our team played great tonight," said Bingham, who had three saves. "We got the three points, but most importantly, we got the goal-differential. Hopefully things fall our way and we're playing for our life in the tournament."

It was the Quakes' highest scoring output since a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy on June 29 and their widest margin of victory since a 4-1 win over Colorado last October.

Consider the effort a defining moment for a team currently outside the MLS playoff picture late in the season.

"I feel all moments right now are defining because we're late in the season," Wondolowski said. "We've backed ourselves into a corner. We're going to go down swinging and doing whatever we can to claw, scratch our way onto the next round, in CONCACAF, into the playoffs, whatever we can do."

Wondolowski's ninth goal of the season in all competitions was the Quakes' first in the group after back-to-back 1-0 road losses. It came on a tap-in in the 21st minute off a double-assist from Steven Lenhart and Dan Gargan.

In the 58th minute, Chavez ripped a spectacular shot into the upper corner off a poor clearance by Montreal's Patrice Bernier, making it 2-0. Salinas, after entering the game in the 74th minute, seized on another muffed clearance by Montreal's Felipe to round out the scoring.

The Quakes featured a tweaked back line composed of Justin Morrow and Dan Gargan starting out wide in place of Steven Beitashour and Jordan Stewart, along with Jason Hernandez and Clarence Goodson in the center. It took the unit some time to settle into a rhythm. Hernandez made two big sliding stops, and Morrow cleared one out as well.

saturday's game
Earthquakes (10-11-8) at Real Salt Lake (14-9-6), 6 p.m. CSNCA