Scouting Report: SJ Earthquakes
Riding the momentum of its 2-1 victory over FC Dallas in Week 10, the Crew heads west for its stiffest test of the season thus far, kicking off against the red-hot San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night (FOX Sports Ohio/ 10:30PM EST). Here's some things to know about the Black & Gold's next opponent:
On its trip out west, the Crew will look to be the first team to beat the Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium this season. San Jose is 3-0-1 on the campus of the University of Santa Clara thus far in 2012, and haven't lost there since August 2011.
New England, Vancouver, Real Salt Lake, and D.C. United have all fallen victim in Silicon Valley. San Jose's last opponent at Buck Shaw Stadium, Chivas USA, escaped with a 1-1 draw last week.
The Crew is 1-2-1 on the road this season with a win in Toronto and a draw in Portland. The Black & Gold will look to carry over the success from its last West Coast visit, a 0-0 draw against the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN Field on May 5.
Over the past few seasons, Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski has become Major League Soccer's most potent attacker and 2012 hasn't been any different. The 29-year-old striker currently leads the league with 11 goals in 11 matches this season. The 2010 Budweiser MLS Golden Boot winner has netted a total of 48 goals since joining the 'Quakes in 2009.
To give a little perspective, Wondolowski is tied for the highest goals per 90 minute average with Taylor Twellman in MLS History in a minimum of 100 matches played.
Stopping the striker will be a tall task for second-year defenders Eric Gehrig and Josh Williams if the Crew hope to leave the Golden State with a positive result.
Wondolowski's success this season has been partly due to the support he's gotten from San Jose's attacking midfield and flank play. On loan from Tottenham Hotspur, Simon Dawkins along with Rafael Baca have provided the 'Quakes with speed and service to Wondolowski in the box, while offseason acquisition Tressor Moreno has given the Earthquakes the true No. 10 the club had desperately needed in years previous.
And then there's former Crew striker Steven Lenhart. Lenhart has been a pest to opposing defenses, drawing attention away from the deadly Wondolowski with his constant pressure in the box. In addition to Wondolowski's 11 goals, Lenhart has netted four himself as San Jose's second striker.