MLS preview: San Jose Earthquakes at Portland Timbers


This one is all about Wondo, a man on a mission.

That’s Chris Wondolowski, of course … but I think we all know that by now.

He’s good.

Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. ET, Jeld-Wen Field, NBCSN

(Official league preview is here)

On San Jose:

  • Chris Wondolowski has 26 goals, which means he will win this year’s Golden Boot for leading scorer and probably the league’s MVP award, too. Good on him.  But what everybody wants to know: Can the man get one more? If so, he matches the best goal-scoring season in MLS do date.
  • Wondolowski has 60 goals over the last three seasons, easily tops among current MLS men.

(MORE: Wondo chases Roy Lassiter’s mark, a record from another era)

  • A Bay area native, Wondolowski was selected in the fourth round of the 2005 supplemental draft by San Jose. Final total: 88 players chosen before him. Most people have probably never heard of 80 of them.
  • More on his background and record pursuit is here.
  • Oh, San Jose has already captured the Western Conference crown, the Supporters Shield (for league’s top record). If all goes well for Frank Yallop’s men in the coming MLS playoffs, the Earthquakes will host MLS Cup. Somewhere in the Bay area.
  • It’s a tricky spot for Yallop. Wondolowski is a solid dude on a club with tremendous esprit de corps. No one has a bad thing to say about this guy. So, everyone on the club, the coach included, is all nervous about this one, terribly eager to see the man pull it out and walk with the mark. Except that Yallop has bigger MLS fish to fry at some point, as his club has plenty of reason to like it’s MLS Cup chances. So the coach has to weigh his star man’s record chase against the benefits of rest and injury protection. Good luck unraveling that one.

On Portland:

  • The Timbers close out a fairly miserable season here. This is the final match on the bench for Gavin Wilkinson, who moves back to his role as technical director when Caleb Porter comes aboard in December.
  • The Timbers had their “MLS Cup” last week, and it provided one of the few moments of joy in 2012, a 1-0 win at Vancouver. That secured the Cascadia Cup for the Timbers, the trophy that goes to the top Pacific Northwest club (Portland, Vancouver or Seattle.)
  • What more is there to say about a bunch of Timbers who played their hearts out last week and can’t possibly muster the same energy and intensity in the name of stopping a generally well-liked figure from achieving a record? Either way, the stadium will be full. As always.

Bottom line:

C’mon, Wondo … you can do it!