Marvin Chavez still not 100 percent despite solid return for San Jose Earthquakes

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Marvin Chávez is back to his goalscoring, chance-creating self. And here’s the best part for the San Jose Earthquakes: Chávez feels he’s not even back to full strength yet after an offseason knee strain.

“I’m slowly getting my rhythm, but I’m not 100 percent yet, for sure,” Chávez said through a translator Saturday after his knuckling free kick fooled Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin and carried the Quakes to a 1-1 tie against the Colorado Rapids. “I have to thank the coach for giving me the opportunity to keep on playing and get myself back into condition to contribute to the team.”

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Chávez, originally injured in January with the Honduran national team, has appeared in five of the Quakes’ last six matches, and they’re 1-0-4 in those contests, versus 2-4-2 without him. With a top-speed Chávez on the wings, San Jose might be able to flip some of those ties into elusive victories.

“Marvin is quite the X factor for us,” San Jose center back Jason Hernandez said. “When he’s playing well, he brings a unique dimension to our team. Obviously, you saw [against Colorado] how active he was and how dangerous he was ... Moving forward, he’s going to be big for us.”

Chávez tried to give credit for his first goal of 2013 to MLS and international teammate Víctor Bernárdez, who often takes booming free kicks from long distances for the Quakes. That might be a little bit too much magnanimity on the part of Chávez, who has been one of San Jose’s top choices on dead balls since his arrival in 2011; his only assist thus far this season came on a corner kick delivery.

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It also won’t hurt that as Chávez gets closer to full fitness, so will several teammates coming back from winter surgeries, such as Steven Beitashour, Alan Gordon, Steven Lenhart -- all of whom missed time at the start of the season while undergoing rehab work.

“I think there’s definitely more to go,” Quakes left back Justin Morrow told MLSsoccer.com about Chávez. “Marvin is such a huge piece of our team. I know every game that he’s going to bring it with all of his heart. There’s more to go from him and there’s more to go from all of us.”