Preview: Confident Quakes host Houston in San Francisco

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SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs HOUSTON DYNAMO
AT&T PARK, San Francisco, Calif.
March 17, 2012 (WEEK 2, MLS Game #10)

2 p.m. PT (CSN-CA; FS-Hou; MultiM)

REFEREE: Chris Penso. SAR (bench): Brian Poeschel; JAR (opposite): Mike Rottersman; 4th: Yader Reyes
MLS Career: 72 games; FC/gm: 24.6; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 23; pens: 21

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INJURY REPORT:
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES -- OUT: MF Joey Gjertsen (R knee surgery); FW Alan Gordon (R hip surgery); DF Tim Ward (L non-specific soft tissue injury); QUESTIONABLE: MF Jacob Hustedt (L ankle surgery)
HOUSTON DYNAMO -- NONE REPORTED

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (9 meetings): Earthquakes 4 wins, 13 goals … Dynamo 4 wins, 13 goals … Ties 1
AT SAN JOSE (5 meetings): Earthquakes 3 wins, 8 goals … Dynamo 1 win, 5 goals … Ties 1

LAST YEAR (MLS):
6/4: SJ 2, HOU 0 (Lenhart 69; Dawkins 90)
9/17: HOU 2, SJ 1 (Davis 47; Bruin 79 – Stephenson 40)

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • The two teams have shared a pitched rivalry since the Earthquakes returned to the league in 2008, after the Dynamo moved to Houston from San Jose in 2006. They have split their season series in each of the four years since the Quakes’ return.
  • In nine all-time meetings, each team has won four (with one tie), and each team has scored 13 goals.
  • Coaches record: Frank Yallop vs. HOU: P15 W6 L6 D3 … Dominic Kinnear vs. SJ: P9 W4 L4 D1

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The San Jose Earthquakes opened their season with a victory for the first time since returning to the league, defeating the New England Revolution 1-0 at Buck Shaw Stadium.

LAST MATCH

  • The game's lone goal came after 15 minutes. San Jose winger Shea Salinas scooped up possession from an errant pass and quickly slipped a through ball to Chris Wondolowski. The U.S. international took one touch and fired from just outside the penalty area past New England goalkeeper Matt Reis.
  • Steven Lenhart made his return to the club and started for Frank Yallop as the spearhead in attack. Newcomer Victor Bernardez filled a spot in central defense.

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-4-1-1): Jon Busch - Steven Beitashour, Justin Morrow, Victor Bernardez, Ramiro Corrales - Marvin Chavez (Simon Dawkins 64), Sam Cronin, Rafael Baca, Shea Salinas - Chris Wondolowski - Steven Lenhart (Khari Stephenson 69).

TEAM NEWS

  • Chris Wondolowski picked up right where he left off, scoring the only goal vs. New England. Wondolowski scored in the final five games of the 2011 season – the six consecutive games with a goal is one shy of the alltime MLS record, set in 1997 by Raúl Diaz Arce, 2000 by Wolde Harris and 2006 by Carlos Ruiz.
  • “That was a team effort to put me in a place to score,” said Wondolowski. “Shea (Salinas) put great pressure on them to get the turnover and he was able to play a good ball. He fed me and it was an easy job to finish it. It was an important for us to score first and be on top early.”
  • The Earthquakes won their home opener for the first time since returning to MLS in 2008. They had lost their previous four home openers by a combined score of 6-0.
  • “Last year, we would have most probably, if not definitely, conceded a late goal,” Quakes head coach Frank Yallop said. “All in all, just really pleased to get the three points, get this game out of the way and just move on and look forward to the rest of the season. I said during the week it’s like a Cup final to us, and we won the Cup final. So now we can build on it.”
  • In addition, the Quakes held onto the lead – something they struggled with in 2011, when they finished 7-4-5 in matches where they scored the first goal, 16th out of 18 MLS clubs.
  • “Compared to last year, I thought we kept the ball at times and we were able to see the game out by passing through [New England] rather than just lumping it long and defending in our 18,” Wondolowski said. “I think they had possession, but not possession in dangerous places. They had it deep in their half, and I don’t think they created many [scoring] opportunities.”
  • A year ago, the Quakes won just twice by a single goal and did not record a 1-0 victory. Goalkeeper Jon Busch credited the addition of Honduran center back Victor Bernardez with solidifying the back four.
  • “I’ve played with a lot of good defenders throughout the years and he’s going to be one of the good ones,” said Busch. “I know it’s only one game, but he keeps things organized. He’s very comfortable on the ball, which helps. Nothing against the other guys we have, but that’s what we were missing, I think, last year: A leader on that backline.”
  • Added Yallop: “I think Victor’s presence and calming influence on the team is what was needed, and I think he did it well tonight. He was very assured and solid and played well.”

HOUSTON DYNAMO
The Houston Dynamo kicked off their long road trip to begin the 2012 season in fine fashion, scoring a stoppage-time game winner for a 1-0 victory against Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center.

LAST MATCH

  • Just as the match was seemingly dwindling toward a scoreless draw, Andre Hainault collected a deflected shot from a corner in the box and slammed a shot past Chivas USA’s heroic goalkeeper, Dan Kennedy, for the winner two minutes into stoppage time.
  • Dominic Kinnear again had winger Brad Davis to call upon after he missed out on last year’s MLS Cup Final, while Will Bruin partnered Brian Ching in attack.

HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-4-2): Tally Hall - Andre Hainault, Geoff Cameron, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe - Colin Clark, Adam Moffat, Je-Vaughn Watson, Brad Davis - Brian Ching (Macoumba Kandji 86), Will Bruin (Calen Carr 77).

TEAM NEWS

  • Hainault has turned into a scoring threat for the Dynamo. The scorer of the dramatic stoppage-time winner, Hainault scored twice during the Dynamo’s run to MLS Cup last year, and scored his only goal of the regular season in the next-to-last game.
  • “Let’s not get carried away,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said with a laugh. “He was there for a corner kick and the ball fell to him and he did well. He seems to pop up and score some important goals for us and that was a good goal for us.”
  • A year ago, it took the Houston Dynamo 16 games to win their first league game away from home. Kicking off a seven-game road swing while they’re awaiting completion of their new BBVA Compass Stadium, it took the Dynamo just one this year.
  • “There was talk about not winning on the road last year for a while, so it was good to get that win on the road and get that out of the way,” said Kinnear. “It was a good way to start the season, with the goal and a shutout. All in all, I think it was a big positive for us.”
  • It was also the first season opener the Dynamo have won since their first-ever match – a 5-2 win against Colorado on April 2, 2006 at Robertson Stadium. In the five opening matches since, Houston went 0-2-3.
  • “It’s not just [the MLS Cup Final loss] but we lost 3-0 last year to Chivas here,” said Hainault. “It was kind of funny thinking ‘Man, we were in here a couple of months ago.’ But this [win] isn’t going to get that win back.”
  • The Dynamo outshot Chivas USA 9-2 on the afternoon. "We made it a lot more difficult than we should have," said Dynamo forward Brian Ching. "We should have put them away a lot sooner."
  • For that MLS Cup Final, Brad Davis was a major absence after suffering a quadriceps injury the week before in the Eastern Conference Championship. Davis, the MLS leader in assists in 2011, played the full 90 minutes.
  • "It was four months before I could really do anything. I haven't had any setbacks, and that's the most important thing. I'm still building some strength in the leg, but the technical side will come sooner than later," Davis said to the Houston Chronicle.