FC Dallas-Earthquakes Preview

The San Jose Earthquakes avoided matching their longest winless

streak of the season with their most lopsided victory of 2012 last

week. Now they’ll look to solidify their MLS lead when they take on

an FC Dallas club that’s played strong defense during a four-game

unbeaten run.

The Earthquakes face Dallas for the second time in three games

as they try to continue their home dominance in the series

Wednesday night.

San Jose (12-4-4) played Dallas to a scoreless draw July 7,

failing to break through as Dallas twice cleared the ball off its

goal line and Kevin Hartman made spectacular saves on Shea Salinas

and Chris Wondolowski in the final 10 minutes.

That left the Earthquakes on the verge of tying their season

high of three straight games without a victory, but they

convincingly averted that Saturday. Wondolowski recorded a hat

trick to give him a league-best 17 goals as San Jose defeated Real

Salt Lake 5-0.

Wondolowski, held to three goals in his previous seven games,

earned MLS player of the week honors.

The victory moved the Earthquakes four points up on Salt Lake in

the Western Conference. San Jose can further expand its lead

Wednesday in advance of Salt Lake’s next contest this weekend, but

the league’s highest-scoring team will take on a Dallas club that

has been tough to crack defensively of late.

Dallas (4-7-9) has given up two goals in going 1-0-3 in its last

four and earned its first victory in 14 games Saturday, 2-1 over

Colorado. Fabian Castillo’s goal in the 81st minute put Dallas in

the win column for the first time since April 14.

“Once we start collecting more wins then we can start thinking

about celebrating,” said Castillo, who also assisted on Carlos

Rodriguez’s tying goal in the 60th.

Hartman has only faced 12 shots over the past four games after

opponents put 36 on goal in the previous six. Dallas went 0-5-1 in

that stretch as Hartman allowed 12 goals.

“We’re a group that really works hard and it has been

disappointing to put together a winless streak as long as it was,”

Hartman said after the victory. “There hasn’t been a lot of

rewarding ourselves lately, so to have gotten a win in a very

difficult environment tonight, it means a lot to us.”

San Jose has proved to be a challenging environment for Dallas

to earn victories, going 1-2-4 in its last seven there. The

Earthquakes won 4-2 on Oct. 22 in the last matchup at Buck Shaw

Stadium, with Simon Dawkins scoring twice for San Jose.

Dallas has been shut out in four of those last seven road

meetings and is 1-1-7 away from home this season.

Wondolowski had recorded three goals in the previous two

matchups with Dallas before he was denied by Hartman on July 7. One

of the shots Dallas cleared off the goal line also came from

Wondolowski.