Crew-Earthquakes Preview

Chris Wondolowski could miss the San Jose Earthquakes’ final two

matches this month if he makes the U.S. national team’s 23-man

roster.

That won’t help the Columbus Crew.

Wondolowski and the Earthquakes look to extend the franchise’s

best start Saturday night when they host a Crew team trying to

match a season high by winning two straight.

The MLS leader with 11 goals, Wondolowski has given U.S. coach

Jurgen Klinsmann every reason to name the 2010 Golden Boot winner

to next week’s training camp roster that will prepare for three

friendlies this month and two 2014 World Cup qualifiers in

June.

If Klinsmann puts Wondolowski on the final roster May 25, he

would miss San Jose’s match against Los Angeles on Wednesday and

next Sunday’s game versus Kansas City.

“We’d miss Chris, for sure, but we’ve got other players that are

capable of (stepping in),” Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop told MLS’

official website. “Chris gets to play every week, so it will be a

chance for someone else to get a run up top if he does go.”

Wondolowski, though, will be available Saturday when San Jose

(7-2-2) tries to extend its home unbeaten streak to nine following

last Sunday’s 1-all draw against Chivas USA.

While hoping to slow down Wondolowski, Columbus (3-2-4) also

could have its hands full with Steven Lenhart. The former Crew

forward has four goals in his last four games.

“It’s going to be challenging for our guys. They have to step up

and make sure they don’t give too much freedom to (Wondolowski and

Lenhart),” Crew coach Robert Warzycha told the club’s official

website. “They have to know where they are at all times.”

Columbus defenders Sebastian Miranda, Eric Gehrig and Josh

Williams also will have to keep an eye on striker Alan Gordon,

whose 88th-minute goal against Chivas was the equalizer. Gordon had

missed the previous three games with a hamstring strain.

“It’s about believing in yourself. I believe myself and Gehrig

can compete with anybody in the league,” Williams said. “Just doing

our homework and playing intense, knocking them, and making sure

it’s not easy for (the Earthquakes).”

While the Crew have been getting solid play from goalkeeper Andy

Gruenebaum and their back line – giving up two total goals in their

last three matches – the offense must continue to improve as they

enter a busy stretch. Columbus has scored eight goals in nine

games, including only one in four road matches.

The Crew had gone more than 260 minutes without a goal before

Justin Meram and Sebastian Miranda scored in a five-minute span of

the second half in a 2-1 win at Dallas last Saturday.

This contest begins a tough 10-day stretch in which Columbus

plays three league games and a third-round U.S. Open Cup match.

The Crew could get a boost Saturday with the possible return of

midfielder Dilly Duka and forward Olman Vargas, who have been

nursing hamstring injuries.

Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch, who played for Columbus from

2002-06, has not allowed a goal in three matches against his former

team since joining San Jose in 2010. Busch made five saves in a 3-0

victory May 14, 2011, that helped San Jose end a three-match home

winless stretch in this series.

Columbus’ lone win streak this season was back-to-back victories

March 24 and 31.