SANTA CLARA, Calif. — For San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski, 2012 began in much the same way 2011 ended.
Wondolowski, who tied for the league lead with 16 goals last year, scored in the 15th minute Saturday to give the Earthquakes a 1-0 win over the New England Revolution.
It was San Jose’s first victorious home opener since the club rejoined MLS as an expansion side in 2008. The Quakes lost their four previous home openers by a combined score of 6-0.
For the Revolution, the game also continued a 2011 storyline, albeit one they’d rather forget. New England, which finished tied for last in the 2011 standings, lost five of their final six matches to end last season and have now won just once in their last 15 MLS regular-season contests.
FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
The Quakes got on the board by taking advantage of a New England miscue in the Revolution’s own half of the field. Captain Sharlie Joseph tried to play a ball across the field for left back A.J. Soares, but the Cal product slipped and couldn’t reach the ball.
San Jose winger Shea Salinas, one of several attacking players brought in as San Jose retooled following a failed playoff run in 2011, scooped up possession and quickly slipped a through ball to Wondolowski. The US international took one touch and fired from just outside the penalty box past helpless goalkeeper Matt Reis.
Wondolowski extended his scoring streak to a league-best six games, dating back to the end of last season.
The Earthquakes, who had only one shutout in their final 15 matches last season, held on to blank New England despite the Revolution’s increased second-half pressure.
With Saer Sene unavailable due to injury, the Revolution opened with two newcomers – D.C. United castoff Blake Brettschneider and Colombian signee Fernando Cardenas – in the attack. But the visitors rarely tested San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch, who was called upon to make just one official save.
New England’s best chance for an equalizer in regulation came when Lee Nguyen blocked a clearance from Justin Morrow, drove to the end line and then tried to feed the ball across the goalmouth. New Quakes center back Victor Bernardez did well to softly cut out the pass for Busch to corral.
Benny Feilhaber missed netting an equalizer by inches during second-half injury time, and seconds later, San Jose’s Simon Dawkins pushed a potential game-clincher just past the far post.
The loss spoiled the coaching debut of New England’s Jay Heaps, who took over for Steve Nicol this winter.
New England opened with five new faces in their lineup. In addition to Brettschneider and Cardenas, there were also John Lozano (center back), Clyde Simms (defensive midfield) and highly touted rookie Kelyn Rowe, who debuted professionally on the right wing.
Soares slid over to left back for the Revolution after Darrius Barnes suffered a calf injury Friday, with converted midfielder Stephen McCarthy stepping in at center back.
San Jose started their pair of newly acquired Honduran internationals, Bernardez and right wing Marvin Chávez.
Tyler Polak, the Revolution’s second-round selection in this year’s SuperDraft, made his pro debut in the 60th minute, replacing Soares. Nguyen, picked up by the Revs earlier this month after being dropped by Vancouver, also earned his first MLS appearance, entering with 21 minutes remaining.