Chavez's speed turning into immediate asset for Quakes

Marvin Chavez of the Earthquakes

Photo Credit: 
Ethan Erickson/Portland Timbers

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Perhaps the only question Marvin Chávez has yet to answer for San Jose Earthquakes fans is how he ended up on their roster in the first place.

In three starts with San Jose, the 28-year-old Honduran is unbeaten. He’s proven to be everything the Quakes thought he would be when they acquired him from FC Dallas during the offseason in exchange for allocation money to provide a threat on the flanks that San Jose were missing in 2011.

Given how well Chávez has played with San Jose, it’s a wonder that Dallas let him get away. But don’t look to him for an explanation.

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“Dallas is in the past,” Chávez told MLSsoccer.com through a translator. “I don’t want to talk about Dallas anymore. I just want to focus on the teammates I have now. Everyone here has accepted me very well. I’m out here every day to prove myself to them and be a good teammate. That’s my goal, defend the colors of this team.”

Chávez has been credited with one assist thus far in 2012, sliding a ball across the penalty box for Shea Salinas to hammer home in San Jose’s 3-0 win at Toronto FC on March 24. But his speed has helped in other ways that don’t show up in box scores.

Last Saturday in Seattle, it was Chávez’s hustling rundown of a ball skittering towards the corner in the 23rd minute that afforded Steven Lenhart the opportunity to wheel back into the Sounders’ box. Once there, Lenhart encountered the outstretched leg of Seattle defender Marc Burch, drawing a penalty kick that Chris Wondolowski converted for a 1-0 victory.

“Any kind of pace in a team – and Marvin has tons of it – gives you worries,” Quakes coach Frank Yallop said. “We decided to tuck him and Shea inside against Seattle, because of the way they pressed us, and I think it worked. We could find them, and then they could explode with the ball. Both of them did a nice job of listening to the tactics and really executed the game plan terrifically well.”

Though speed is Chávez’s best asset, he doesn’t want to rest on those laurels.

“I mature every single day as a player, I mature every day as a professional and I keep trying to get better,” Chávez said. “I never want to put my arms down and feel comfortable. There’s never been a day when I’ve thought, ‘It’s OK. I’m faster than everyone else.’”

Listed at 5-foot-5 and 145 pounds, Chávez has impressed teammates with his willingness to mix it up with opponents, part of the Quakes’ whole-team philosophy on defense that has helped San Jose go four games without giving up a goal in the run of play.

“We knew about him being a dangerous option on the counter and getting away from guys, but he wins a good amount of 50-50 battles he gets into,” Quakes defender Jason Hernandez told MLSsoccer.com. “I think with his smaller stature, he has a lower center of gravity. And how many balls he wins for us on the other side really adds to what he brings to us offensively.”

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