Dominic Kinnear's weekly conversation
The Earthquakes presently own the best record in the league. How much of a focus is winning the Supporter's Shield for the best regular season record?
Dominic Kinnear: "Well, we don't necessarily look at it like that. Our first goal was to try and make the playoffs, and we did that. Our second goal was to get home field advantage, and we did that. Our third goal was to be the best in our conference and we have hit that. Another goal if you are having a good season, is obviously you want to shoot for that top spot, so winning that is something that the team certainly wants to do."
Earthquakes midfielder Dwayne De Rosario is having a very strong season for the team and is considered a strong candidate for MLS Honda Most Valuable Player. What do you think of the way Dwayne has played this season?
DK: "I think Dwayne has had a very good season, and if people want to talk about him as an MVP candidate, that is fine, he deserves that. He has very good stats, as far as MVP-type stats go. I think he has had a very consistent year as far as his overall play. If that is what it takes to be an MVP candidate, I would back him up on it."
The Earthquakes face the New England Revolution on Saturday as the top teams in the league go head-to-head. How is the team approaching this game, knowing that a chance to secure the Supporter's Shield is on the line?
DK: "We are approaching it like it is another Saturday and we want to win. Ultimately, my focus is on winning MLS Cup. I think if you ask any team in the league if they would rather win the Supporter's Shield or MLS Cup, all of them would say the MLS Cup. It would be a great honor to win the Supporter's Shield - winning that shows that you have been very good from Week 1 to Week 32. It shows that you have been very consistent and very focused. But, if you were to ask me which one would I rather have, I really want to be in Frisco with the MLS Cup. I think the first day you step on the field in the preseason that is the ultimate goal. Like I have said before, we have lots of smaller goals before that. We want to have a good consistent season and then make the playoffs, and then get home field advantage and then try to get the best record in the league and then step into the playoffs. I don't look at it that if we win against New England we will have the best record in the league. I look at it like it is another Saturday to play and pick up three points, so let's go out and show our stuff again."
The Earthquakes did not have one of their best performances on Saturday against FC Dallas. What are your thoughts on that game?
DK: "I think playing Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday kind of caught up with us a little bit. If you looked at the previous games, going all the way back to the Chivas USA game at home, that was a very emotional game and then the game against Chivas USA in L.A. was physically and emotionally very hard. Then you have Wednesday, which was a battle between Chicago and us. So, I think Saturday probably crept up on us a little bit. I think we played below par in a lot of positions and the team didn't play all that great. Still, we kept on fighting. I think Dallas tried to pull us off our game with a lot of fouling and grabbing and being very aggressive. If that is the way people want to play we have to be ready and rise to the challenge. I think in the second half we came out better and a little more determined. I think mentally and physically we were just a bit off, but to come back and get a result was great. We finished well, but overall I think we have definitely played better this season."
What are some of the dangers that New England presents to the Quakes?
DK: [Taylor]Twellman, [Pat] Noonan, [Steve] Ralston and [Clint] Dempsey are obviously the top four guys that you have to watch. But then guys like [Shalrie] Joseph have been pitching in with goals this year. They are a very good team. We have to work on defending crosses and stay with runners in the box. The thing about Twellman is that he is good in the air, but his movement in the box is great. He is always moving in the box and he is a hard guy to keep your finger on. We need to try and limit their service wide and obviously stay with their runners and not give up any second chances. They play a 3-5-2, so we will need to try and get our outside backs involved, they should see a lot of space. If we move the ball well then we should find spaces wide and try to attack those spaces."
With Eddie Robinson missing Saturday's game due to suspension, Ryan Cochrane will once again have to fill in on defense. Can you talk about the success the Quakes have enjoyed this year with players stepping into a familiar system?
DK: "I think keeping the same system like we do is beneficial to the guy who comes in. I think if you pay attention to what is happening, then it is simple to step in. Plus, Ryan has been here for almost two years. He played a lot last year, so he knows what is expected of the position and he is a smart player who knows what he is doing. There is no sense of panic when someone goes down, because we see what we have and just plug him in and away we go. We can't get too concerned over what has happened, we have to be concerned about what is going to happen next."