Earthquakes returning to form
Well, it took awhile but we finally looked like a team on a mission. There is still half a season to go and we know we are not in the position that we want to be in, but we still are in control of our own destiny. If we continue to play with the passion and desire that we showed on Saturday against a good Colorado Rapids team then we will enjoy a lot more positive results than we have had in the first half of the season.
Right from the opening whistle we went at the Rapids. We did not allow them any time to set up and develop a rhythm. Both Ryan Cochrane and Jeff Agoos were tight on the Rapids' forwards and never let them turn to run at us. Todd Dunivant and Craig Waibel provided good cover and their distribution allowed our midfield and forwards to play attractive attacking soccer.
Brian Ching is second in the league in goal scoring with all nine of his goals coming in the flow of play (unlike the leader Carlos Ruiz, with 10 goals, who has scored two penalties). He has been a dominant force for us up front. He holds the ball well and allows Landon Donovan to play off of him. When Brian is on, there is no better target man in the league, and he certainly makes my job easier. Whenever I am kicking I just have to hit it in his direction and he will win it. He makes bad balls look good. I think most importantly, when he loses a ball he is the first guy to try to chase it down and we as a team feed off of that. He deserves all the recent credit he has been receiving.
The past few weeks have been hard on all of us, the coaching staff included (maybe even more so). I think the most important thing to remember is that we were 4-3-5 until a six-day stretch, where the schedule was not very kind to us, set us back to 4-6-5. Certainly during that stretch things did not go our way. We didn't play particularly well in Los Angeles but would have pulled out an away point if a ball had not been cleared off the Galaxy line in injury time. Then we performed well against Dallas only to see me give up a soft goal in the 87th minute and have us miss a penalty a few minutes later in a game where Dallas was a bit fortunate to finish the game with 11 men. And finally, we played well in New York considering all the elements against us. We hit the post twice and lost 2-0 with New York scoring their last goal on a 90th-minute penalty.
When things are not going well, the breaks tend to go against you but when things are going well they go your way. For example, in Portland they had a player justly sent off in the first 20 minutes and against Colorado, John Spencer hit the outside of the post when we were leading 1-0. Oddly enough we won both games. Soccer is a funny game sometimes. On any given day ...