Real Salt Lake-Earthquakes Preview

The San Jose Earthquakes have locked up their star after winning

the franchise’s second Supporters’ Shield.

Real Salt Lake is preaching patience as it begins the new season

with plenty of road games after losing some familiar faces.

Reigning league MVP Chris Wondolowski and the Earthquakes

dominated Real Salt Lake in three 2012 matchups heading into Sunday

night’s opener at Buck Shaw Stadium.

San Jose (19-6-9) finished with a league-high 66 points last

year to earn its first Supporters’ Shield since 2005. The

Earthquakes were led by Wondolowski, who scored 27 goals to tie the

league record set by Tampa Bay’s Roy Lassiter in 1996.

Wondolowski was re-signed Tuesday, becoming the second San Jose

player to take a designated player spot. He’s the first player to

lead MLS in goals for three straight years.

“As my hometown team, I couldn’t be more excited to sign a

designated player contract with the Earthquakes,” Wondolowski told

the team’s official website. “These last few years have been

amazing and I look forward to continuing my career in San


San Jose’s season ended on a bitter note after falling 3-2 on

aggregate to eventual MLS Cup champion Los Angeles in the Western

Conference semifinals. The Earthquakes, though, are now among the

league’s elite after finishing in sixth place or worse in each of

their previous four seasons.

“It’s obviously a quality, quality team, the Supporters’ Shield

winner for a reason,” Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said. “They

were really strong last year and a very, very good home team and a

team that never said die.”

Kreis has a major rebuilding effort on his hands after his team

finished nine points behind San Jose for second place in the West

before being eliminated 1-0 on aggregate by Seattle in the

conference semifinals.

Salt Lake (17-11-6) has parted ways with mainstays Fabian

Espindola, Jamison Olave and Will Johnson. Regular starters Javier

Morales, Nat Borchers and Chris Wingert are all injured to begin

2013 for RSL, which plays five of its first seven matches away from


“I think the word that needs to be said over and over again will

be patience,” Kreis said. “This will be a different looking Real

Salt Lake team. I do not believe we are going to come out of the

chutes and put ourselves in first place after the first five or six

weeks like we have done in the past two seasons.”

RSL will look for stability from captain Kyle Beckerman, who

will become the 20th player in MLS history to make 300

regular-season appearances Sunday. Alvaro Saborio should continue

to be a major threat after finishing fourth in MLS with 17 goals in


San Jose outscored RSL 10-2 in winning all three meetings last

season, with Wondolowski providing half of its goals. RSL finished

one contest with nine players and another with 10.

“I think the key for us for this match will be can we keep 11

players on the field to start with, because last year we couldn’t

manage to do that at their place,” Kreis said. “If we can start

there, that will be a decided improvement automatically.”

San Jose coach Frank Yallop will use newcomer Mike Fucito at

forward alongside Wondolowski since Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart

are both injured.