Look! The 2013 San Jose Earthquakes Schedule is out.

The Earthquakes are coming off their most successful season since they returned to San Jose - in 2012 they won the Supporters' Shield with a 19-6-9 record. Here’s the first look at the key games of the 2013 MLS schedule, and how it might influence the club’s success next season.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends - the first look at the 2013 MLS schedule shows that the San Jose Earthquakes will kick off the season with a tough stretch against five opponents who finished in the top ten of the final 2012 standings. In 2013, the Quakes won’t have the early season element of surprise, with opposing teams now alerted to The Goonies never say die attitude. The good news is that the nucleus of the squad will return for the Earthquakes’ last season in Buck Shaw Stadium, and assuming the Bash Brothers return fully fit from their off-season surgeries, they should be tanned, rested and ready for the 2013 season. And they’ll need to be ready - first two home games are against strong opponents – Real Salt Lake and the New York Red Bulls.

The one game surely atop the must-see list for the Quakes faithful will be the ‘home’ game against arch rivals LA Galaxy, once again to be held at Stanford Stadium on June 29th. This game comes in the middle of an arduous two month stretch of road trips in May and June against high caliber opponents, so the players might just need that extra home support. Last year, the home field advantage at Stanford uplifted the players to a hard fought, second-half comeback 4-3 victory in front of 50,000 fans. Later in the season, on August 18th, the Earthquakes will face their closest rivals for the 2012 Supporters’ Shield, Sporting KC, at The Buck and hoping to reverse their 2-1 loss at Livestrong Park last year.

Quakes fans seeking international vacations this season can attend two away matches in the CONCACAF Champions League. In the regular season, Earthquakes players will need their passports, and metric cleats, for just one trip north of the 49th parallel. In 2012, the team was a disappointing 1-3-0 playing in Canada, but in 2013 will host Canadian rivals Montreal Impact and Toronto FC; and Quakes fans will surely feel free to ‘initiate’ rookie coach Ryan Nelsen with friendly advice. Another bogey for the Earthquakes appears to be artificial turf, on which they finished 2012 with a 1-3-1 record. The 2013 schedule presents one less game (four) on plastic pitches – and one less opportunity to break out my oldest astroturf joke:

1st soccer fan: Do you prefer grass or astroturf?
2nd soccer fan: I dunno, I've never smoked astroturf.

[Pause for rim shot.]

With the publication of the regular season schedule, the internet hums as MLS fans research their travel options. There’s plenty of opportunity for the wayfaring Quakes fan this season, with road trips scheduled for the major Holidays. If you need any pointers, over Easter the Earthquakes will visit the Zombie Quakes in Houston – hopefully the weather will not oppressively humid, but very orange stadium at BBVA Compass Stadium might prevent the discovery of any orange-colored Easter Eggs in this year’s hunt. On Memorial Day, the Quakes will play in Dallas, coinciding with CityArts Festival at Fair Park, and on the July 3rd they will be in Chicago, followed by the Navy Pier fireworks in the Windy City. The final holiday (absent a Thanksgiving play-off treat) will be the Labor Day weekend for the first of two trips to Los Angeles, that coincides with the LA County fair. These two late season trips to the Home Depot Center, the birthplace of the Goonies last May with Alan Gordon’s last minute winner, promise to be the most exciting away matches for the Quakes.

Last of all, the Quakes fans will (finally) wave farewell to Buck Shaw at the end of the 2013 season, and direct their attention across the railroad tracks to the new stadium on Coleman Avenue; first kick at the new stadium is expected to open the 2014 Earthquakes’ season. Fan expectations are running high after a successful 2012, so it would be a wonderful send-off - and perhaps dealing with some unfinished business - if the last match at The Buck was in the MLS Cup play-offs. But, for now, the last regularly scheduled game will be October 26th against FC Dallas - and perhaps another Golden Boot as Wondo scores his 28th goal of the regular season?

I can't wait...

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Here's the 2013 MLS schedule as announced on January 9, 2013:

Date Opponent Time TV
Sunday, March 3 REAL SALT LAKE 7:30 p.m. TBA
Sunday, March 10 NEW YORK RED BULLS 7:00 p.m. ESPN2
Saturday, March 16 at Columbus Crew TBA TBA
Saturday, March 23 SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC 7:30 p.m. TBA
Saturday, March 30 at Houston Dynamo TBA TBA
Saturday, April 6 VANCOUVER WHITECAPS 7:30 p.m. TSN
Sunday, April 14 at Portland Timbers TBA NBCSN
Sunday, April 21 PORTLAND TIMBERS 8:00 p.m. UNIMAS
Saturday, April 27 at Chivas USA TBA TBA
Sunday, May 4 MONTREAL IMPACT 1:00 p.m. TBA
Wednesday, May 8 TORONTO FC 7:30 p.m. TBA
Saturday, May 11 at Seattle Sounders FC TBA TBA
Saturday, May 18 COLORADO RAPIDS 7:30 p.m. TBA
Saturday, May 25 at FC Dallas TBA TBA
Saturday, June 1 at Real Salt Lake TBA TBA
Saturday, June 15 at Colorado Rapids TBA TBA
Saturday, June 22 at D.C. United TBA TBA
Saturday, June 29 *LA GALAXY 7:30 p.m. TBA
Wednesday, July 3 at Chicago Fire TBA TBA
Saturday, July 6 at NE Revolution TBA TBA
Saturday, July 13 SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC 7:30 p.m. TBA
Saturday, July 27 PORTLAND TIMBERS 7:30 p.m. TBA
Sunday, August 4 CHIVAS USA 8:00 p.m. UNIMAS
Saturday, August 10 at Vancouver Whitecaps TBA TBA
Saturday, August 18 SPORTING KANSAS CITY 8:00 p.m. UNIMAS
Saturday, August 24 at FC Dallas TBA TBA
Saturday, August 31 at LA Galaxy TBA TBA
Sunday, September 8 PHILADELPHIA UNION 8:00 p.m. ESPN2
Saturday, September 14 VANCOUVER WHITECAPS 7:30 p.m. TBA
Saturday, September 21 at Real Salt Lake TBA TBA
Sunday, September 29 at Chivas USA 8:00 p.m. UNIMAS
Wednesday, October 9 COLORADO RAPIDS 7:30 p.m. TBA
Sunday, October 20 at LA Galaxy 6:00 p.m. ESPN
Saturday, October 26 FC DALLAS 2:30 p.m. NBCSN
*Match will be played at Stanford Stadium
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