Looking for first win of season, Earthquakes host Crew

Looking for first win of season, Earthquakes host Crew
April 13, 2014, 9:15 am
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Sam Cronin and the Earthquakes will try to win their first game of the 2014 season. (USATSI)

Programming note: Crew-Earthquakes coverage starts at 12 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California Plus (Territory restrictions apply) Channel locations

After posting an unblemished record in March, the Columbus Crew got off to a rough start this month.

Coach Gregg Berhalter's club isn't likely to get much sympathy from the winless San Jose Earthquakes, who are off to their worst start in 14 seasons.

Looking to regroup from their first loss, the visiting Crew try to end a six-game winless stretch against the Earthquakes on Sunday.

Columbus (3-1-0) outscored opponents 7-2 in its first three games before losing 2-0 to Toronto FC last Saturday. The Crew fell behind in the 11th minute.

"The first thing is that you have to bounce back from defeats," Berhalter told the team's official website. "You're going have a couple. There are going to be stretches where guys aren't in the best of form, but you have to find a way to bounce back. Consistency is key, finding a certain level of performance and maintaining that."

Columbus had five shots on goal to TFC's three but couldn't get anything past Julio Cesar.

"It's a long season. You have to take positives from the loss," midfielder Hector Jimenez said. "Forget about it, move onto the next one. There's 30 games left. Put it away and move on."

The Crew will try to do that against struggling San Jose (0-2-1). The Earthquakes' one point through the first three games is their lowest total since opening 0-3 as the San Jose Clash in 1998.

San Jose has never gone winless in its first four contests.

While the Earthquakes haven't been able to get it together, Jimenez knows better than to take them lightly. Columbus has been limited to four goals during an 0-1-5 stretch in the series.

"(San Jose) is a team that plays 90 minutes through," Jimenez said. "They're always down and then they come up. When they play at home, they're a tough team to beat. They have great forwards up top and it's not going to be an easy game."

The Earthquakes take the field for the first time since falling 2-1 to New England on March 29, their first home loss in 18 games. Chris Wondolowski tied it in the 69th minute but San Jose allowed the winning goal in stoppage time.

"The talent, the mentality, the effort is all there," Wondolowski told MLS' official website. "We've just got to make sure that it doesn't take a goal to wake us up. We've got to make sure that from minute one, we're ready to go. ... It's got to be a lot better."

Not helping matters is the loss of forward Steven Lenhart, who went down with a sprained MCL. Lenhart, who spent the first three years of his career with Columbus, won't face his former club and could be out for up to a month.

"He's a big part of our team, of our locker room," Wondolowski said. "I feel gutted any time anyone goes down. I'm very close to Steven, and I don't like seeing him go down, especially with the knee."

San Jose is trying to avoid dropping three straight in MLS play for the first time since April 2011.