SAN JOSE, Calif. — Chris Wondolowski doesn’t hold back when speaking about the San Jose Earthquakes’ most lopsided loss of the 2011 season, a 3-0 thumping delivered by the New York Red Bulls on April 16.
“I know I felt just embarrassed about it,” Wondolowski said. “I think to a man, we all felt that we could play better and we didn’t come prepared. We’re going to try to make a difference this time.”
The shutout at Red Bull Arena exacted a measure of revenge for New York, who were bounced from the playoffs last year by an upstart San Jose club seeded eighth overall.
By that same token, the Quakes would like to get back at the Red Bulls on Saturday (10:30 pm ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes), and what better to do that than deliver a top-flight performance on national TV before a Stanford Stadium crowd expected to exceed 30,000?
“We remember the 3-0 battering we got up at their place, so it should be some good motivation for our guys,” Quakes coach Frank Yallop said.
The Quakes shot themselves in the foot during the earlier New York matchup, letting Luke Rodgers run rampant for a pair of goals in the game’s first 15 minutes. From there, it was a simple matter of keep-away for the hosts.
Yallop feels the fact that his club has lost just once in MLS play since April 30 — going 4-1-3 in that timeframe — matters more than the Quakes’ earlier loss to New York.
“That was two months ago,” Yallop insisted. “We’re a different team now, mentally, physically and emotionally. We’re way different than we were. Not to say that we’re going to definitely win the game. ... What I am [saying is], we’re ready to go, and it’s not New York I’m worried about. It’s about our own play.”
The Quakes are hoping for a boost from playing in Stanford Stadium, which should boast a crowd more than triple the size of their franchise record (10,872) at Buck Shaw Stadium.
With tight confines all the way around the pitch, Wondolowski said the park reminds him of San Jose’s former home, Spartan Stadium. He hopes the Quakes can create the same level of “intimidation,” as he put it, from the close quarters.
Lineup-wise, Yallop will likely have to make at least one change: Bobby Convey did not practice this week after bruising a patellar tendon last week against the Galaxy and is expected to miss his second match this year.
That puts the ever-troublesome right midfield spot back in play as Yallop tries to integrate Wondolowski — returning from a month with the US Gold Cup squad — into his plans.
Saturday marks the first chance Yallop has had to put the 2010 Golden Boot winner in a starting 11 with both of the club’s two biggest offseason acquisitions: target man Steven Lenhart and playmaker Simon Dawkins.
If Yallop wants to keep Dawkins as an underneath forward, he could slot Wondolowski into the right wing, knowing he’ll often dip into the middle of the field in search of the ball. Or, if Yallop wants to put his strength up the middle, he could put Wondolowski between Lenhart and Dawkins, presumably bringing rookie Anthony Ampaipitakwong back to right midfield.