To kick off the home portion of 2013, the Crew welcomes the San Jose Earthquakes to Crew Stadium on Saturday. Like the Black & Gold, San Jose enters the weekend with a 1-1-0 record as the defending MLS Supporters' Shield winners leave the Bay Area for the first time this season.
Anchored by a core of Jon Busch, Victor Bernardez, Sam Cronin and reigning Volkswagen MLS Most Valuable Player Chris Wondolowski up the middle of the field, the Earthquakes present an enticing matchup for the Crew and the fans of Columbus who will be getting their first taste of live soccer in 2013.
LAST TIME OUT
Keeping up with 2012's theme of "Goonies Never Say Die," the Earthquakes picked up their first victory of 2013 with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory of the New York Red Bulls. Both of San Jose's tallies came past the 80th minute, including Wondolowski's re-taken penalty kick in the 92nd minute to secure the three points.
Rebounding from a 2-0 defeat in the season opener against Real Salt Lake at home, the 'Quakes could ill afford anything less than a victory against New York as its next three matches come on the road against the Crew, at home versus Seattle Sounders FC and in Houston against the Dynamo.
SAME OLD WONDO
Despite his fellow "Goonies" Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon sidelined with injuries, forward San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski remains the League's top scoring threat after tying Roy Lassiter's long standing record of 27 goals last season.
While some critics believe Wondolowski is not at potent in front of net without Lenhart and Gordon, Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha sees things differently.
"Chris Wondolowski scored 27 goals last year," Warzycha said. "He scored the game-winning goal last game. I think he's going to be the same Chris Wondolowski that scores a lot of goals. Whether he's playing with Gordon, he's playing with Lenhart, or anybody else, it doesn't matter. He's going to be the same player."
New addition Gláuber and veteran Chad Marshall will share the task of containing last year's Budweiser Golden Boot winner in central defense on Saturday.
The Earthquakes set an MLS record in 2012 with nine goals coming after the 90th minute to either tie or win. The Crew knows the feeling all to well as the Black & Gold settled for a lone point in San Jose last season after Alan Gordon's acrobatic 90th minute equalizer in the two teams' only meeting of 2012.
It will take 90-plus minutes of mistake-free soccer on Saturday if the Crew hopes to earn three points at home.
"As with any game, we have to play from the first to the last whistle. They had a good record of scoring late last year, but we had a pretty good record scoring late, too, last year," Warzycha pointed out. "We have to be very confident in our players until the end."