Quakes notes: Easy does it
After playing five games in the first week of their trip to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., , the Earthquakes had a light practice Monday morning. Following a warm-up and 5v2s, the team did some shooting to work on finishing and to give the goalkeepers some shots.
"After the tough first week, I think that some of the guys have tired legs," said head coach Dominic Kinnear. "Today was a perfect day for a light training to help guys recover. We will get some good practices in the rest of the week and one more game."
In the afternoon, players went to the gym and Kinnear held one-on-one player meetings. The team also scheduled a team dinner for Monday night at a local restaurant.
Q&A with Pat Onstad
You are entering your third year in MLS and are one of the top goalkeepers in the league. What were your expectations coming to San Jose prior to 2003? Did you expect to be where you are now?
My first goal was not to embarrass myself, but I couldn't attain that one. The Kansas City game in 2003 blew that goal for me. Once I got through that and I had one go around in the league and saw what it was about, I thought I could play at this level and be reasonably successful. Overall, the first year exceeded any expectations that I had, but last year, I was brought down to earth a little bit.
You and Troy Dayak are now the two senior players on the team. Do you feel any added responsibility this season?
To a certain extent, but I think that the responsibility comes from being in my third year in the league. Anyone who has been around the league a few years has to take on some leadership. For instance, Brian Ching and Brain Mullan are both coming into their own and are now leaders on this team. Being a leader has less to do with age and more to do with experience.
How has the camp been for the goalkeepers?
It is nice having continuity out there. Jon (Conway) and I have had a good relationship over last couple of years and we have a lot of respect for each other. It makes it easier to play when goalies are working together, not backstabbing each other. Also, Robbie Fulton has come in and done a good job. I think that he has a great future.
Tim Hanley has a good track record with helping goalkeepers reach their potential. What makes Tim Hanley successful as a goalkeeper coach?
Tim is very good because he is a cerebral coach and he also does a good job teaching technique. The higher the level you get, the more you want someone to use as a sounding board and Tim is a great sounding board for someone like me who needs a lot of psychological work. At this stage of my career, he helps me remain focused and mentally prepared. For younger goalkeepers, he can adapt and he really helps them improve technique to make them better goalkeepers. He has always done an excellent job with goalkeepers.
How would you assess the five preseason games that the team has played?
We are improving as a unit. Guys are starting to understand each other better and we are coming together bit by bit. The game against KC wasn't great in the first half and some of the guys kind of hit the wall. However, the young guys came on in the second half and really took it to KC. That was a good game for the young guys to get confidence and it showed the older players that there are a lot of talented players here that can help this team.
What are the biggest positives so far in preseason?
Danny O'Rourke in the first week of training seemed a bit nervous, but he has really come into his own down here and has been a real bright spot for us. Ricardo Clark and Brad Davis are starting to work well together in midfield. They are both good, young players. Brad has been very good on set pieces and his service has been excellent. Also, I think that we have some nice options up front with Brian Ching, Alejandro Moreno and Ronald Cerritos. We won't be predictable up there because they all have their own style.
You just had your second child at the end of last year. Any differences between having one child and two?
Since I have been down here, my life has been fine, but my wife's life has probably been much more difficult. Yes, it is definitely a change with two kids, but I am very lucky to have two healthy boys (Peyton and Owen). Having children is an enjoyable and pretty humbling experience.
You have always been a positive role model wherever you have played. How did you become so committed to making a positive impact in the communities that you play in?
It goes back for me to when I was growing up and I followed the Vancouver Whitecaps (NASL). The players were always doing camps and visiting schools and just getting out into the community. I saw that and I have always believed that I should give back to the community where you are living. Also, doing that kind of stuff creates bond with the community. It is nice to meet the people that come and watch you week in and week out at the stadium and get their opinions and show them that you are just a regular person. I have always enjoyed that aspect of playing.
Ching & Mullan Head Home
Forward Brian Ching and midfielder Brian Mullan trained Monday morning and then flew back to the Bay Area in the afternoon. The pair will take a few days off in San Jose before joining the team on Saturday for training in San Jose. The pair will then depart for U.S. national team training camp. Both players previously attended the national team's camp prior to the World Cup qualifying match against Trinidad & Tobago. Ching made the trip to Trinidad, but did not suit up for the game, while Mullan stayed home and joined his Quakes teammates in San Jose. The United States plays two friendly matches in March: Colombia on March 9 in Fullerton, Calif., Honduras on March 19 in Albuquerque, N.M. and two qualifiers: at Mexico on March 27 and vs. Guatemala in Birmingham, Ala. on March 30.