Lineup changes incoming for Earthquakes?
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Having used four lineups in six matches, San Jose Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop has shown little trepidation at making changes to his starting XI during a 1-3-2 run to open this season.
But what Yallop talked about Saturday in the aftermath of a 2-1 Chivas USA victory - the Goats’ first win in 2011 and the first comeback victory by any MLS side this year - would seem to hint at something deeper than a simple tweak here or there.
“That was alarming,” Yallop said of his team’s lifeless performance. “I need to shake it up now, because that ain’t good enough. Not even close. . . . There might be a few (new) guys starting. We’ll see.”
Though the bluntness of Yallop’s language in dealing with the press was a bit of a surprise -- Yallop is always candid, but rarely lays his players out quite so thoroughly -- the fact that he’s talking about the need for change is not.
Outside of goalkeeper Jon Busch, who made several spectacular saves to keep Chivas from turning the match into a rout, and 2010 Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski, who tallied in the 16th minute to give the Quakes their first home lead this year, nobody would appear to be immune from potential replacement when San Jose travels to Philadelphia on Saturday.
“If you lose two straight, when in both games we didn’t really show up and got kind of run over in New York and then outplayed here again against Chivas, you can’t really expect to be in the lineup,” said Quakes midfielder Sam Cronin, who has played all 540 minutes for San Jose this season. “It’s our job to get on the field and work hard, represent the club well and win. And we haven’t done that. If you don’t do that, you can’t say anything if the coach feels like he’s got to shake it up.”
Yallop liked the spark that rookie Anthony Ampaipitakwong brought to the right wing - a problem spot all season - after replacing Khari Stephenson in the 55th minute. And Steven Lenhart, who made his Quakes debut as an 80th-minute substitute, looked like he could be the answer San Jose was searching for as a target forward.
How to shore up a defense that’s allowed eight goals in four matches is not so easy. Tim Ward, a key contributor in the second half of 2010, is still out due to a right hamstring strain originally suffered in preseason. Ike Opara and Bobby Burling are possibilities at center back, though that would likely mean pulling either Jason Hernandez or Brandon McDonald, both of whom have also played every minute this year.
“I think any professional team in the world would tell you, when you’re losing, everyone’s job is up for grabs,” Hernandez said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that if Frank feels like someone’s not up to par, he’ll make a change. That’s his job. It’s our job to stay on the field and perform as best we possibly can.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes