Dominic Kinnear's Weekly Conversation
The Earthquakes qualified for the playoffs Wednesday night with Real Salt Lake's loss to D.C. United. How does it feel to qualify with eight games remaining in the season, especially after some people picked the Quakes to struggle in 2005?
Dominic Kinnear: "I know going into the season a lot of people were wondering how good we were going to be or if we were going to be successful at all. I think to qualify for the playoff is obviously our first goal going into every season. To do it so early is obviously great, but it doesn't rally matter. Any time you qualify you feel some sense of achievement. The players really deserve it, and now we are looking forward to getting the home field advantage, that is what we are shooting for now."
With the Earthquakes qualifying for the postseason with so many games remaining, how do you feel the team will approach the remainder of the regular season?
DK: "I think they will go about them very focused and the attitude will be right. We know the importance of trying to get the home field advantage, because I feel we are very good at Spartan Stadium. That is the goal now, to try and finish as high as we can so we can get home field advantage in the playoffs."
Brian Ching has been back to training with the club and could possibly see action this Saturday or in the coming weeks. What does it mean to the team to have him as an option heading into the stretch run and playoffs?
DK: "We've definitely missed him this year, he brings a lot to our team. He is a big body, he holds the ball well for us and he is good in the box. I think most teams would like to have him on the field or in their squad. Obviously it is a plus having him back, but we want to make sure he is 100 percent. We don't want to mess with him too much and set him back, we want to make sure that going into these last 8 games of the season and he is 100 percent able to help the team. We will not just throw him out there."
After losing to the Galaxy on August 24 in the U.S. Open Cup, the Earthquakes responded with a sterling performance on August 27 in an MLS re-match with Los Angeles. What are your thoughts on the team's performance in that game?
DK: "I think I could have come into the locker room and not said anything on Saturday and they would have been fine. I think they were motivated from the start. They felt on Wednesday against L.A. that we might have let one get away, especially because of the way we were pressing in the second half. I think they were looking forward to Saturday; the motivation was there. We came out perfectly to start both halves, especially the second half when it was 1-1 and we had to try and get the game back our way. So, it was a perfect response to Wednesday. I know they were disappointed that L.A. beat us in the Open Cup, but I think they were really motivated to not get beat on Saturday, but to win and that is the most important thing."
The Earthquakes travel to Dallas to play shorthanded second place FC Dallas. What are your thoughts on this game?
DK: "It is an important three points. We are going to go there and try to win like we always do. We know Dallas is missing players, but we can't look at it that way, we have to look at it from a team perspective. That means that it is an important game for them and for us in the standings. We need to get a positive result to set us up for the final seven games of the season."