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San Jose's successful Corrales-Convey flip could stick

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Ramiro Corrales doesn’t much resemble Lindsay Lohan and Bobby Convey is hardly a ringer for Jamie Lee Curtis.

Nevertheless, the San Jose Earthquakes’ left-sided duo is re-enacting its own little version of Freaky Friday, the 2003 comedy starting Lohan and Curtis as a mother and daughter who switch bodies.

Convey and Corrales formed a solid partnership last season as the Quakes’ left midfielder and left back, and with Ryan Johnson away on Gold Cup duty, it appeared coach Frank Yallop would re-team them last Saturday against Chicago.

Yallop did so, but with a big twist: flipping the pairing on its head, so that Corrales received his first start as a midfielder since leaving San Jose in 2004 and Convey manned the left-back spot he dislikes so much. The move, in conjunction with the insertion of Steven Beitashour at right back, was designed to give the Quakes the most speed possible on the corners to counteract the pace of Chicago winger Dominic Oduro.

The result was successful enough that Yallop may stick with the new setup, beginning with San Jose’s home match against Houston on Saturday (10:30 pm ET, Galavisión).

“What happens a lot of times is you do it and [you say], ‘Hey, it looks pretty good,’” Yallop said. “I was happy with them playing their positions like they did.”

For Corrales, the decision was a bit of a shock given that he hadn’t patrolled the midfield once in 73 appearances since returning to the reborn Quakes in 2008.

“I played there a lot back in the day, so it’s no problem for me wherever they put me,” Corrales told MLSsoccer.com. “I thought I did a good job, so it’s another option for the team. As long as the team’s doing well, I’m happy.”

For his part, Convey may be too successful as a left back — the position he used to play for the US national team before falling out with current coach Bob Bradley — for his own comfort. If he didn’t play so well there, Yallop wouldn’t keep using him at that spot. If Convey opens there against the Dynamo, it will be his fourth straight start in that spot.

Convey said he doesn’t want to rock the boat with public complaints, but he has made clear over the past two years his preference to play further up the field, where he can make more of a difference offensively.

“I’ve talked with Frank,” Convey told MLSsoccer.com. “I just told him, for me, I was able to affect a lot of the games last year and be influential and help the team win [at left midfield] and I thought that’d be where I would’ve played this year. I’m not going to make it about myself. Frank knows where I want to play.”

Convey’s distaste for left back is exacerbated by the fact that the team abandoned its new 4-3-3, possession-based formation before target striker Steven Lenhart — a critical piece to making the 4-3-3 work — came back in the wake of preseason knee surgery and the death of his father.

“When you stand in the back, you kind of just defend — especially the way we play now, where we’re more of a longball team,” Convey said. “If you play left back in a possession team, you get the ball more, you’re almost a second left midfielder. When we just played more direct recently, you just kind of head it and clear it. I want to be able to justify my salary, and I don’t know if I can really do that from standing at left back, basically.”

Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at sanjosequakes@gmail.com. On Twitter: @sjquakes