San Jose Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch going strong at 36, not about quit any time soon

SAN JOSE, Calif. – When Jon Busch arrived in San Jose early in the 2010 season, he was seen in some quarters as an interloper. The Quakes already had Joe Cannon – a Bay Area product, former Santa Clara star and a veteran of San Jose’s first MLS Cup title – as their starting goalkeeper. Why did they need Busch, formerly of the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire?

Now, it’s almost impossible to think of the Quakes without Busch as their defensive stopper. And quietly, San Jose have become the most influential entry on his MLS resume. With three starts this year heading into Saturday’s match against Seattle, Busch has made 86 appearances with San Jose, or two more than he did with the Crew from 2002-06 and 23 more than while with the Fire from 2007-09.

San Jose star Chris Wondolowski told MLSsoccer.com that he sees Busch as a Quake first and foremost.

“I definitely do,” Wondolowski said. “The Quakes are made up of guys that have been cast off, and I think that’s what makes us. He has a great attitude. He helps us out a lot. I love having him on our team.”

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Busch, who took over the job for good when Cannon broke his ankle in August 2010, was indeed cast off from Chicago, although it was an understandable move for the Fire, given that they had future US international Sean Johnson waiting in the wings.

Busch’s numbers with the Quakes don’t look spectacular, especially when compared to his 2004 season in Columbus, when he was a finalist for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, and 2008 in Chicago, when he won the award.

His statistics over the last two seasons -- a combined 84 goals allowed -- have been skewed by the fact that the 2011 Quakes were simply dire defensively, and the 2012 version pushed men forward constantly, willing to engage opponents in shootouts knowing that their record-setting offense would usually prevail.

For his part, Busch thinks he’s gained in areas that don’t necessarily show up in the GAA standings.

“I think the biggest thing for me here is I’ve found consistency in my game,” Busch. “Having that many appearances, and if you look back, I think they’ve been very consistent over the years I’ve been here. That goes down to the day-to-day work with [San Jose goalkeeper coach Jason] Batty. He has to be applauded for keeping me consistent and keeping me healthy and whatnot. A lot of the credit has to go to him.”

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Busch has missed only three of San Jose’s last 89 regular-season matches, keeping highly regarded young goalkeeper David Bingham stapled to the bench since departing Cal three years ago. How many more years are left in the 36-year-old’s tank?

“I want to play as long as I can, because I love it so much, but I think for me it’s more about being able to do it consistently, day in and day out, game in and game out,” Busch said. “I’m not going to be the guy who hangs on just to hang on and say, ‘Well, I used to be able to [make that save]’ because I’ve always held myself to a very high standard.

“So I’ll know when it’s time. I don’t think it’s close. I know I’ve got a few more years in me, as of right now.”