SANTA CLARA -- Chris Wondolowski was beside himself Sunday night after the Earthquakes opened the 2013 Major League Soccer season with a dismal 2-0 defeat to visiting Real Salt Lake.
The league's reigning MVP and a newly minted designated player failed to convert on seven shots against an untested Salt Lake back line in front of 10,525 fans at sold-out Buck Shaw Stadium.
"Horrible finishing by me," Wondolowski said. "Horrible technique. Horrible execution. I let the team down."
The Danville native who had a league-record 27 goals last season had plenty of chances to torch Salt Lake, but it might be too much for the Earthquakes to rely on any one player if they hope to repeat as Supporters' Shield winners and playoff contenders.
With five regulars out with injuries and electrifying midfielder Simon Dawkins now playing in the English Premier League with Aston Villa, San Jose just didn't have enough oomph to put away Salt Lake.
Real, which also opened the season with a new look after finishing second to San Jose in the Western Conference last year, weathered a first-half barrage before striker Alvaro Saborio struck twice in the final 19 minutes.
"To hold Wondo without a goal is big," RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman said.
Wondolowski's teammates say it won't happen often.
"Every time he steps on the field he feels he's going to make magic," center back Jason Hernandez said.
That's why the De La Salle-Concord alum took the opening defeat personally.
The Earthquakes failed to muster any last-minute heroics like last year underscoring how much they miss big target men Alan Gordon (foot) and Steven Lenhart (knee). The team also missed midfielder Marvin Chavez, out with a MCL sprain and fullback Steven Beitashour, who has a sports hernia injury.
Wondolowski missed two difficult headers two minutes apart in the second half and a drive down the right with a minute left.
But it was during the first 45 minutes the usually reliable striker felt he should have changed the game. He had four chances but put only one on frame, something that will nag at him the rest of the week.
"We all know Chris Wondolowski will score goals," midfielder Shea Salinas said. "Just because it didn't happen on night one doesn't mean he won't get his 20 goals."
For a while it seemed the star would collect a couple on a cool opening night at Santa Clara University.
Wondolowski wasted little time with a threat in the third minute off a free kick from Salinas. But his header went far left of the goal.
In the 14th minute defender Tony Beltran put his body in front of Wondolowski's shot off that came Salinas' corner kick.
A minute later Salinas served an in swinger from the corner that Sam Cronin controlled on the right. Cronin served into traffic where Wondolowski again had a shot. This time it hit the top of the crossbar after goalkeeper Nick Rimando got a fingertip on it.
"I didn't see it at all," Rimando said. "There were three dudes in front of me. I was lucky to push it against the post."
The Quakes' best chance came in the 21st minute on a play started by fullback Ty Harden, who replaced the injured Dan Gargan in the starting lineup. Harden passed into the box, where Mike Fucito let the ball go to Wondolowski.
The Quakes' new striker slipped past a defender on the right as Wondolowski fed him. But Fucito pushed his open shot past the far post.
"Most of the time we bury those chances," Fucito said.
When getting its chance Real took care of business. Saborio scored the game-winner in the 71st minute when Joao Plata chipped the ball over the defense. Saborio outraced Hernandez to the box and easily beat goalkeeper Jon Busch.
Saborio, who had 17 goals last year, scored again in the 85th minute to put the game out of reach as Real earn a valuable road victory.
New York (0-0-1) at Earthquakes (0-1-0), 7 p.m., ESPN2