Dominic Kinnear's weekly conversation
Patrick, from San Jose asks: On August 24 the Earthquakes host the Los Angeles Galaxy in the U.S. Open Cup. The Galaxy have defeated the Quakes three previous times in the Open Cup; will you be using starters to assure a win or will you rest the starters and use the reserves and chance us getting eliminated?
Dominic Kinnear: "We are playing to win the game. I envision a similar lineup to what we used in Portland, and that is guys who have played in this league, those are starters. I feel we have a deep team and I feel all the players in the 18 are capable of being starters. We are going to play to win."
Larry, from Sunnyvale asks: Do you think the recent moves made by Chivas USA will significantly help their team?
DK: "I think it will help their team because they are adding players that are first of all very good players and have experience. They are players that have played under pressure and will be good in this situation. They are adding players that will improve the team for sure."
Frank, from Walnut Creek asks: The Rapids played a physical game against the Quakes last week. Do you think a lot of teams will employ that strategy and what can the Quakes do to combat that?
DK: "I don't know if teams will employ that strategy. I think this league is a physical league, and some teams are more physical than others. I think it comes down to that it is now an area of the season where a lot of teams are fighting for playoff spots and their energy level rises because of that. Being one of the better teams in the league gives teams extra motivation to play well against us. I don't know if other teams will do it, but if they do, we need to match their intensity, both physically and mentally, to combat that. We need to hold on to the ball so we don't let their players get too close to us. If we are moving the ball and not holding on to it for too long, then it is harder for teams to get close to us."
Can you give us a brief scouting report of Real Salt Lake for this weekend?
DK: "As we all know, Jason Kreis is a good goal scorer. I'm sure he is on a high after scoring his 100th goal. Andy Williams is a good player, and they are strong in the back with Eddie Pope. They are at home this week and have played well at home on the turf this year. It will be a difficult game, we have to try and put pressure on them and try to not let them get too comfortable. When we do have it, we need to move the ball around. When we get a chance to run at their defenders we need to do that. We need to put the ball in their box and see how they handle that with our players making good runs. But, we have to be smart defensively, our shape has to be really together and compact."
What is the status of Brad Davis and will he play on Saturday?
DK: "Brad is doing better, he will get in some time today and we will see where he is. We want to make sure he is 100 percent, since he came back from the National Team and the All-Star game he had problems with his ankle and now he's got his groin. So, you don't want to put him at risk for further injury. We will see how he feels after today and then decide what to do."
With 10 games remaining in the season, do you feel that it is too early to start preparing the team for the playoffs?
DK: "It's way to early. You look at all the games we have left, and we have only two against Eastern conference teams. There are still tons of points left to play for. We haven't clinched anything yet. While we are in a good position and there are tons of teams that probably would want to be in our position, you can't take it easy. Sometimes it is hard to get it back if you take your foot off the pedal. Home or away, we want to win every game. We have only lost four out of 22 games so far, which is pretty good in this league. I think that is because the guys want to win, and they just hate to lose."
How is Brian Ching's recovery coming along from his hamstring injury?
DK: "He is doing all right. He is going to take part in training a little bit today as a neutral player, so that is good. He has gone from jogging to doing a little cutting (while running) last week. Now he is going to try and get a few touches on the ball at a more competitive pace. It will be good to get him back and healthy when we can."