Dominic Kinnear's weekly conversation
What did you think about the Earthquakes performance in the 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday?
Dominic Kinnear: "I think Wednesday was probably a little bit tougher for us than when we played them the last time. Last year they had a man sent off and that made things a little bit easier for us. I thought we did well limiting their chances and I thought we created a bunch. Josh Saunders did well to keep it 1-0 at halftime. I give credit to Portland. They hit the crossbar on us; they never gave up and gave us some scary moments. They just never stopped. You have to give them credit to their attitude."
How do you feel the players react to playing in a competition like the Open Cup where you play in venues and against teams that are unfamiliar?
DK: "It is fun. The crowd in Portland, especially the bunch behind the goal, really makes it fun. Obviously, you want to play on grass. The guys are a little bit achy after playing on that turf. But it is nice. That is the great thing about the Open Cup, you go to different venues, big and small and it is a different atmosphere and I think the guys enjoy that."
With the All-Star game on July 30, the Earthquakes had 10 days off between the 2-1 win over the MetroStars on July 23 and the August 3 win over Portland. How do you think the team responded to the time off?
DK: "I thought they were good. I told them in the locker room there that the one thing you can maybe lose when you are off for a while like that is some of the attacking and combination play that we have been pretty good at. I thought we took a little bit of time to get into the game, but then I think some of the stuff we did in the first half was good. We moved the ball around well and I think we created problems for them. It was good overall. Anytime you get a good five or six days off in a row and really take advantage of it, you are going to get a good attitude and I think your legs are really underneath you again. We had a good couple of trainings and Portland was a good test for us. Saturday night is going to be great. I can't wait to get back to Spartan and get the guys going against Columbus. Columbus has been playing well, so it's not going to be easy, but we need to come out and play sharp."
There were some changes in the lineup on Wednesday in Portland. How do you feel some of the players who have not been seeing a lot of regular time in the starting 11 performed against the Timbers?
DK: "I think the one thing for us is that it doesn't matter who is on the field, it is the way we play. I think the guys all understand that and want to keep that. Ian [Russell] had a very good first half for us in Portland, and Danny [O'Rourke] was covering ground and winning the ball and moving it. Brian [Mullan] played up front for us. He has played up there before, but he put in another good performance. Obviously with Wondo [Chris Wondolowski] and Kevin [Goldthwaite] coming on, it was good for them to get their first competitive minutes with the first team."
What do you feel will be the keys for the Quakes on Saturday when they continue the MLS season against the Columbus Crew?
DK: "We are happy to be back at home to start off the second part of the season. I think everyone knows that we will play aggressively and put the Crew under pressure and just come out flying. We want to keep the ball moving like we have been doing and also defensively, continue our play there. I think the defense has been fantastic; we will look for three points."
The Quakes have a crowded August scheduled, with four MLS games, two Open Cup matches and an international exhibition against Deportivo Alaves. How do you plan on guiding the team through this tough portion of the season?
DK: "We are going to have to use different lineups. Guys are going to start and then different guys are going to come in and play in some other games. I told the guys when we first came back together that there is going to be a lot of minutes for a lot of different people coming up. We will try to get guys their rest when we can. When you have so many games so close together, sometimes you just want to spend some time at the training ground to fine tune things, but I think the players would rather play the games. There are a lot of them this month, but there is nothing we can do about that."
Brad Davis made his return to the Quakes on Wednesday after missing six games while with the U.S. national team at the CONCACAF Gold Cup. How do you think he adjusted to being back with the club?
DK: "He was good, he knocks the ball well. I think he found some good pockets to work in and the running off the ball we were able to do obviously makes his passes look even better. He is a good soccer player, and when he gets the ball at his feet good things happen."
With Brad Davis back and the Quakes getting effective play from healthy midfielders Brian Mullan, Mark Chung, Dwayne De Rosario and Ricardo Clark, what are your plans for the lineup on Saturday against the Crew?
DK: "I will make a decision on Saturday. We will see how the guys can recover from the Portland game and see what we feel will be our best eleven on Saturday."