STANFORD, Calif. — The San Jose Earthquakes will be without starting goalkeeper Jon Busch on Tuesday in Portland (10:30 pm ET; watch LIVE online), but the team won’t be lacking for confidence in his replacement.
Second-year ‘keeper David Bingham deputized for the injured Busch this past Saturday, coming on at halftime against the LA Galaxy. And his two saves were a critical, if underrated, portion of San Jose’s comeback from two goals down to win 4-3.
With a 2-0 record as an MLS starter and another shutout half to close out the Galaxy victory, Bingham is showing that the Quakes shouldn’t miss a beat without Busch, who will be sidelined for at least the Portland trip because of a corneal abrasion suffered in the first half against LA.
HIGHLIGHTS: SJ vs LA
“He’s a great goalkeeper,” Quakes star Chris Wondolowski said of Bingham. “We see it day in and day out. Obviously, we want Busch in there, but if he can’t make it, we have just as much confidence in Bingham.”
Bingham’s biggest play Saturday came in the 74th minute, when LA midfielder Juninho fed a ball to the middle of the pitch and found the feet of teammate David Beckham. The English star's late run allowed him to slip in between the Quakes’ two banks of four and find oodles of open space between himself and San Jose’s goal.
Instead of charging out full-throttle, Bingham took two steps to the edge of his six-yard box and crouched, expectantly. With three defenders homing in on him, Beckham tried to lift his shot to the far post, but a leaping Bingham extended his 6-foot-2 frame and deflected the ball wide of the target.
The play was right in Bingham’s wheelhouse, since the former Cal All-American quite often plays off his line. Sometimes, as it proved against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in US Open Cup play last month, it can prove to be a detriment. Other times, as against Beckham, it can be a significant plus.
“Every goalie has their own style,” Bingham said. “Some like to hang on their line, do reaction [saves]. Some like to come out, some [play] kind of in the middle. Obviously, I’m more of the aggressive-type of goalie. It definitely helps in one-on-ones. You cut the angle down and make the goal as small as possible.”
Busch appeared to sustain his injury during a ninth-minute collision with teammate Víctor Bernárdez, but the 35-year-old couldn’t say for sure. The only certain thing was that it got worse as the half went on.
“I’ve played with a lot of injuries,” said Busch, who played through a broken cheekbone last season. “This one sucks. I thought maybe I just had something in my eye, but as the half went on, I just could not keep my left eye open very long. I was constantly blinking. At halftime, we washed it out real good and it didn’t help.”
That will leave the gig in Bingham’s hands, at least for the time being.
“Bingham has shown time and time again, when he gets his opportunities, that he’s a gamer,” Quakes defender Jason Hernandez said. “He’s ready to play. [Saturday’s performance] was just more evidence of that.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.