San Jose welcomes TFC to Buck Shaw
The San Jose Earthquakes proved last season that a team could still make the playoffs despite struggling some at home.
They would prefer not to do that again.
Playing for the third time at Buck Shaw Stadium this year, the Earthquakes again seek their first home victory when they face Toronto FC on Saturday night.
San Jose (1-1-1) finished with seven home wins last season, the fewest of the eight teams to reach the playoffs, yet still advanced to the semifinals. The club's 17 goals in 15 home games were the fewest in the Western Conference.
The Earthquakes were hoping to establish a better home-field advantage this season, but they're again having trouble at Buck Shaw Stadium.
San Jose opened the year with a 1-0 home loss to Real Salt Lake on March 19, and needed to rally for a 2-all tie against winless Seattle in front of the home crowd last Saturday.
Trailing 2-1 at the half, Khari Stephenson scored the tying goal from 35 yards out in the 52nd minute to help the Earthquakes avoid opening with back-to-back home losses for the first time since 1998.
"We haven't had a good home record for a while now, it was important to play a good team at home and come away with a draw," Stephenson said. "Starting the season off at home with two losses isn't a good sign. It was good for us to finally get back into the game and tie it up the way we did."
Building on that comeback, however, could be tough.
San Jose has been outscored 6-2 in losing its last two home games to Toronto FC.
Although the Earthquakes didn't win last Saturday, they received some nice contributions on offense from someone other than Chris Wondolowski.
Midfielder Simon Dawkins, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League, scored his first MLS goal in the 32nd minute to tie the score at 1. It was the first goal for the Earthquakes from someone other than Wondolowski since Sept. 15.
Wondolowski, last season's Golden Boot winner as the league's top scorer with a career-high 18 goals, had scored San Jose's last 12 regular-season goals - an MLS record.
Like San Jose, Toronto FC (1-1-1) had relied heavily on the scoring of one player, but it now must find a way to move forward without his offense.
Toronto traded disgruntled captain Dwayne De Rosario to New York last Friday for midfielder Tony Tchani, defender Danleigh Borman and a first-round draft pick in 2012. De Rosario had scored 15 of Toronto's 33 goals in 2010, and he had one of the team's first four through two games this season.
Forward Maicon Santos has since been named Toronto's new captain.
"I'm not gonna change anything (as captain)," Santos told the team's official website. "We're gonna keep it up with everything, we're gonna keep it up, the hard work we've been doing. Just keep it up."
Playing its first game without De Rosario last Saturday, Toronto earned a 1-all draw against Chivas USA. Alan Gordon scored the equalizer in the 36th minute for Toronto, which finished with three shots on goal after combining for 11 in the first two games.