Minnesota United-Earthquakes Preview
Though he stands on the brink of history, Chris Wondolowski would rather focus on the direction the San Jose Earthquakes are heading early in Matias Almeyda's tenure as head coach.
The star forward has another chance to match Landon Donovan's all-time record of 145 career regular-season goals when the Earthquakes try to give Almeyda his first victory with the club Saturday night against visiting Minnesota.
Wondolowski has had to wait to tie Donovan and Almeyda for his first win after the visiting Montreal Impact left Avaya Stadium with a 2-1 victory in last Saturday night's opener. Swedish midfielder Magnus Eriksson got the Quakes on the board in the 11th minute when he scored from the top of the 18-yard box, but Montreal responded with two unanswered goals.
Still, defender Marcos López and winger Cristian Espinoza made solid first impressions with San Jose and Wondolowski remains confident this season will be different from a year ago, when the Quakes finished at the bottom of the league with a 4-21-9 record.
"This is a new mentality," Wondolowski told the league's official website after the opener. "It's a new team, new agenda and a new atmosphere. We're very optimistic and even bubbling."
"It's going to be a process," he added. "We want to be peaking in 30 weeks and hitting our stride then. We want to make sure we start playing well and eliminating our mistakes, because we do feel that we have a great team that can be very dangerous."
San Jose will try to take another step forward while building on its 4-0-0 all-time record against Minnesota, which entered the league as an expansion team in 2017. Wondolowski has totaled two goals and four assists in the all-time series after finishing with a goal and an assist in a 3-1 win at Minnesota in the most recent matchup on May 12.
Quakes forward Danny Hoesen also scored in that contest, giving him four goals over the past three meetings with the Loons. It's tied for the most scores by an opponent against Minnesota since the club entered the league.
The Loons, however, are going after the franchise's first 2-0-0 start after Francisco Calvo had a go-ahead header off a cross from Darwin Quintero and Romario Ibarra's goal in the 71st minute proved to be the difference in a 3-2 win at Vancouver.
Calvo appeared to be comfortable at left back after playing at center back for much of his time in Minnesota, while Quintero picked up where he left off last year when he finished with 11 goals and 15 assists in 27 matches.
The Loons, who snapped a 15-game road winless streak (0-13-2) in league play, will continue a stretch of five straight on the road to open the season before finally opening new Allianz Field on April 13. They had won only four times in 34 MLS matches on the road before notching their first against a Western Conference rival last weekend.
"This team believes in each other," goalie Vito Mannone said. "We showed that (in the opener) and we have to carry on doing it every week. Next week is another three points on the board to take, so that's what we're aiming for."
Updated March 8, 2019