In what seems to be a recent theme for Bay Area sports, the San Jose Earthquakes had a breakout year in 2012, winning the Supporters Shield for the best regular season record after finishing no better than sixth in each of their previous four seasons since the franchise was recreated in 2008.
Much of their success rode on record-setting MVP Chris Wondolowski, whose 27 goals last season tied him with Roy Lassiter for the MLS record and made him the franchise’s all-time leading scorer with 73 goals.
With Wondolowski, a Danville native, re-signed as the Quakes’ designated player — one whose salary does not count against the cap — the young squad will look toward returning to the playoffs after getting knocked off by the Los Angeles Galaxy last season in their only home loss of the year.
Goalkeeper Jon Busch said last year’s loss may be the start of a rivalry with their opponents to the south, keeping tradition with other Bay Area teams.
“When I first moved here, I didn’t quite understand it, but now I do,” he said. “I’m a huge hockey guy so it’s funny to see when the Sharks play the Kings and how crazy people get. I think it’s getting there between the Quakes and the Galaxy especially now that we faced them in the playoffs and we always have games with them and intense games.”
San Jose will not have their chance at revenge against the Galaxy until June 29, however, so in the meantime their emphasis is on repeating the hot start they had last year, when they lost only two of their first 14 matches.
Many of those wins came on late goals, inspiring the team to take up the rallying cry from the 1985 film “The Goonies”: “Goonies never say die!”
Busch said that slogan will not necessarily carry over to this year, however.
“That was a cool thing and everybody got involved with that,” he said of the catch phrase. “Every year we try to hang our hat on just being a blue-collar, hard-working team, whatever that entails. Whoever comes up with their little slogans or whatnot, that comes along with it. Our philosophy and mentality is just be a hard-working team, stick together and give it everything you’ve got and see where we come out.”
SEASON OPENER: Quakes vs. Real Salt Lake
- WHEN: Today, 7 p.m.
- WHERE: Buck Shaw Stadium, Santa Clara
- TV: CSN California
- RADIO: KLIV (1590 AM)