Chris Wondolowski scored the only goal of the game in the 15th minute as the San Jose Earthquakes made a winning start to the 2012 season with a 1-0 victory over the New England Revolution on Saturday night at Buck Shaw Stadium.
It was the first opening-day win for the Earthquakes (1-0-0, 3 pts.) since 2003, while it marked the third straight year in which the Revolution (0-1-0, 0 pts.) fell short of three points in the season opener. A total of seven players made their Revolution debuts – including five starters – while the match also served as the head coaching debut for Jay Heaps.
The teams combined to register just two shots on target, but Wondolowski made the most of San Jose’s lone effort on frame by burying a breakaway following a costly turnover in the early stages.
Saer Sène’s MLS debut was put on hold as the French striker missed out with swelling in his left knee, while left back Chris Tierney was also unavailable for New England because of a red-card suspension dating back to last year’s season finale. Newcomers Blake Brettschneider and Fernando Cardenas started up top with Sène sidelined, while an injury to Darrius Barnes (L calf) meant A.J. Soares filled in at left back with John Lozano and Stephen McCarthy pairing up in central defense.
Wondolowski took just 15 minutes to rediscover the form which sent him to the top of the league’s goal-scoring charts the past two seasons. Shea Salinas intercepted a cross-field pass from Shalrie Joseph near midfield and quickly sprang a counterattack, slotting Wondolowski on a breakaway as Lozano stepped up. Wondolowski settled himself before curling a shot into the right side of the net from the top of the box.
The Revolution’s best chance to equalize before the halftime break arrived in the 32nd minute when Soares flashed a header wide of the left post from Benny Feilhaber’s free kick, while Feilhaber tested Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch with a skipping 30-yard drive in the 43rd minute.
Heaps made a pair of attack-minded substitutions in the quest to find an equalizer, sending on Lee Nguyen for Cardenas in the 69th minute and Ryan Guy for Clyde Simms in the 79th minute. The equalizer so nearly arrived in second-half stoppage time when Feilhaber created space for himself at the top of the box, but his right-footed blast sailed just wide of the left post.