San Jose brings premier striker Chris Wondolowski Saturday to try to spoil the Sounders’ run at their best start since 2009.
MATCH: San Jose Earthquakes (2-1-0, 6 points) at Seattle Sounders FC (2-0-0, 6 points). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m., CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 8th (Sounders lead 4-2-1). TV: KONG 6/16; KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114, Spanish). RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH RADIO: La Gran D 99.3 FM.
Seattle Sounders FC (2-0-0, 6 points) will close out the season-opening home stand Saturday looking to match the best start in franchise history, 3-0-0 in the inaugural 2009 season. In order to duplicate that launch, the Sounders will have to solve Chris Wondolowski, one of MLS’s most dangerous strikers.
The top goal scorer in MLS over the past two seasons, Wondolowski struck for a brace last weekend as San Jose bounced back from a second-week defeat to trounce Toronto on the road, 3-0. Saturday’s match at CenturyLink Field will be San Jose’s third consecutive on alien sod.
The Earthquakes employ a 4-1-2-1-2 formation that features Wondolowski up top, paired with Steven Lenhart. A rebuilt midfield includes Shea Salinas, former FC Dallas and Honduran international Marvin Chavez and Colombian newcomer Tressor Moreno, along with midfielder Sam Cronin, who has registered two assists (tied-second in MLS).
Goalkeeper Jon Busch is tied for second in MLS with a 0.33 goals against average, with the lone goal allowed coming from the penalty spot.
Fredy Montero and Wondolowski lead all players in the series with three goals. Wondolowski, the Golden Boot winner in 2010 and runner-up in 2011 with 16 tallies, has scored three goals in his first three games this season (tied for second in MLS).
Wondolowski and David Estrada are the only two players to net two game-winners in the first three weeks of the season.
Through 270 minutes of play, San Jose has yet to allow a goal in the run of play. The only score the Quakes have conceded came from a 14th-minute penalty by Brad Davis in the Houston Dynamo defeat March 17.
Of his team-leading three goals, Wondolowski has scored one with his right foot, one with his head, and one with his left foot.
The Sounders, in a four-way tie for second place in the Western Conference, will again be without the services of midfielder Mauro Rosales, out with a knee injury.
Getting to start the season with three home games is huge for us, Seattle defender Zach Scott said. If we can get nine points out of them, it distances us from the rest of the league and as we start to hit more road games, its definitely going to give us that little cushion.
SERIES: Dates to April 25, 2009, when the Sounders scored a 2-0 home win at on goals by Steve Zakuani and Brad Evans. The Sounders are unbeaten (2-0-1) in their past three with San Jose and hold a 4-2-1 all-time mark against the Quakes. Seattle has outscored the Quakes 6-3 at home, and earned a memorable 2-1 comeback victory in front of 64,140 in Kasey Keller’s regular season home finale Oct. 15, 2011. Each team has scored nine goals in the series, and each has recorded two clean sheets. Sounders FC will host the Quakes again Sept. 23, with a trip to the Bay Area slated for Aug. 11.
LAST MATCH (Sounders, March 23): Estrada tallied his fourth goal in two games and Brad Evans converted the first penalty kick of the season as Sounders FC defeated the Houston Dynamo 2-0 in front of 38,304 at CenturyLink Field. Michael Gspurning notched the first clean sheet of his MLS career to help Sounders FC improve to 2-0-0. Estrada collected the game-winning goal in the 23rd minute when he blasted in a deflected shot from the far corner. Sounders (2-0-0, 6 points) remained unbeaten and improved to 3-2-2 all-time vs. Houston.
LAST MATCH (Earthquakes, March 24): A pair of goals from striker Chris Wondolowski lifted the Earthquakes to a 3-0 victory in Toronto FCs home opener at BMO Field. The Earthquakes (2-1-0) also got the first goal from midfielder Shea Salinas since his off-season return to San Jose. The win marked San Joses biggest road victory since a 4-1 decision at Kansas City Sept. 20, 2003. The Quakes also struck for three goals away from home for the first time since a 4-2 win at D.C. United June 11, 2011.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
EARTHQUAKES STATS / NOTES
HERITAGE CUP: The Heritage Cup, an annual rivalry between the Earthquakes and Sounders in honor of their NASL (North American Soccer League) lineages, continues in 2012. The competition began in 2009 when Seattle joined MLS. The Earthquakes won the inaugural cup on aggregate, 5-4, after a 4-0 home victory on Aug. 2, 2009. The teams split the two-game season series in 2010 (1-1 on aggregate). Sounders FC took the trophy via tiebreaker due to a higher position in the Western Conference standings. In 2011, the teams battled to a 2-2 draw April 2 at Buck Shaw Stadium, with Sounders FC retaining the cup through a 2-1 home victory Oct. 15.
COACHES: Sigi Schmid became first head coach of Seattle Sounders FC Dec. 16, 2008, and is in his fourth year. Born in Tübingen, Germany, Schmid relocated with his family to the U.S. in 1956, and to Torrance, CA., in 1962. He was a four-year starter at UCLA (1972-75) and graduated with a B.S. degree in economics in 1976.
Schmid later earned a M.A. in business administration from the Southern California. A certified public accountant, Schmid coached the Los Angeles Galaxy from 1999 through 2004, winning four major competitions: 2002 MLS Cup, 2002 MLS Supporters Shield, 2001 U.S. Open Cup and the 2001 CONCACAF Champions Cup. He coached the Columbus Crew from 2006-08, winning the MLS Cup in his final season.
In 2009, under Schmid’s direction, the Sounders became the first expansion team to reach the MLS playoffs since the 1998 Chicago Fire. The Sounders also won the U.S. Open Cup in Schmid’s first season. They added their second and third U.S. Open Cup titles in 2010 and 2011.
Frank Yallop: Yallop is in his eighth year as head coach of the Earthquakes, and last took the team to the playoffs in 2010. Under Yallops guidance, the Quakes made a successful return to MLS in 2008 as the top expansion team of the last decade. The Quakes had more wins (8) and points (33), scored more goals (32), and allowed fewer goals (38), than any expansion team since 1998. The team also posted a nine-game unbeaten streak from July 12-Sept. 27, which was the longest in the league in 2008 and the second-longest ever by an expansion team. Yallops tenure as head coach of the Earthquakes is his second stint. He also coached the Quakes from 2001-03 before serving as the head coach of the Canadian mens national team from 2004-06 and the Los Angeles Galaxy from 2006-07.
COMING UP: The Sounders play their first road match April 7 at D.C. United, after which the club will return to Seattle for its only home match of the month, April 14 vs. the Colorado Rapids. The Sounders close out April with a road match at Chicago April 28.
Seattle Sounders FC 2012 Schedule
(2-0-0, 6 points, MLS; 1-1 CCL)
|4/7||^at DC United||4:30||KING||—||—||—|
|5/9||^at FC Dallas||5:30||KING||—||—||—|
|6/30||^vs. New England||4:30||KING||—||—||—|
|7/15||^at New York||1:00||ESPN||—||—||—|
|8/5||^vs. LA Galaxy||7:00||ESPN2||—||—||—|
|8/11||^at San Jose||7:30||KING||—||—||—|
|9/2||^at FC Dallas||4:00||KING||—||—||—|
|10/21||^vs. FC Dallas||6:00||ESPN||—||—||—|
|10/28||^at LA Galaxy||6:00||ESPN||—||—||—|
*=CONCACAF; ^=Major League Soccer; #=International friendly