Dominic Kinnear's weekly conversation

Pulamare, from Walnut Creek, Calif. asks: Can you update us on the status of injured players Brian Ching and Brian Mullan?

Dominic Kinnear: "I think they are both around the two to three week mark right now from being back. I try to stay out of that and leave those kind of medical decisions to our staff, Bruce Morgan. But obviously, I think they would be a good addition to any team in this league, and we know their worth to us, so we want their return as soon as possible."

Bill, from Mountain View, Calif. asks: When Brian Ching and Brian Mullan return from their injuries, the Earthquakes will have several quality options at the forward and midfield positions. Do you know how you are going to adjust the lineup at that time?

DK: "I'm not looking three weeks ahead right now. To be honest, I am looking towards Sunday. This is a big game for us. If we play well and pick up three points there that obviously creates a big gap between a conference opponent and ourselves. So, I can't look that far ahead. Obviously, I want to see those guys training and get back into the team, but it is something that you can't really prepare for. Maybe when they get back, it will be time for Dwayne [De Rosario] to go with Canada to the Gold Cup or something like that may fall into place where it is a situation that you don't have to move anybody, the changes will be dictated. But, I can't think about that right now, I am looking to Sunday. Brian Ching and Brian Mullan are great players, but I have to concentrate right now on what we have for Sunday."

Wayne, from Concord, Calif. asks: Is there a chance to bring Ronnie Ekelund back to the team in some capacity, and do you regret your decision not to bring him back?

DK: "No, I don't regret that decision. Ronnie was a very good player for this team, but I just felt that was the right move for us heading into this season. I'm not going to single him out, but I felt there were some changes that we needed to make. Believe me, I didn't expect to lose Richard [Mulrooney], Landon [Donovan] and Ramiro [Corrales] when we did. But, I still thought that it was better for the team to go in a different direction."

Bryan, from Sunnyvale, Calif. asks: The Quakes have some new defenders playing together right now. How would you rate their performance recently?

DK: "I think they have played well recently. We have had four shutouts now, with those four shutouts coming in our last six games. I think when you look at it, on Saturday D.C. had the better of the territory and the better of the chances, but if you take away Christian Gomez's chance, there wasn't really anything that made you say, 'Wow, they should have scored!' I think some of the chances we created were good too, and it all kind of evened itself out. We were inconsistent because sometimes we played well and created chances, and sometimes we weren't doing so well. Our movement of the ball was one thing that let us down. Against Kansas City it was the most important part of our game and the biggest bright spot. It gave everyone a charge about how we played in Kansas City, and I think everybody could not wait for the next game. Sometimes, maybe you are a little too enthusiastic about it and you come out on the wrong foot and that is hard to deal with, especially when the opponent is a good one, like D.C."

Mark, from San Leandro, Calif. asks: With all of the injuries to the Quakes, are you looking to add any new players to the club anytime soon?

DK: "We are always looking. Believe me, we are looking. We know that Brian [Ching] and Brian [Mullan] will be coming back and that will add to our depth and add scoring punch. But we look everywhere and Alexi [Lalas] and I talk several times a week about adding players that can improve the squad."

Kathleen, from Fremont, Calif. asks: Did you think at the time you signed him that Ronald Cerritos would have scored four goals at this point of the season?

DK: "If you had asked me about him after the preseason I would have said that I thought he was going to have a good season. The last couple of years, I know he has had some difficulties, but when Alexi mentioned his name as someone we had the opportunity to get, I thought 'Yes, 100 percent.' He is very good at Spartan Stadium. Technically, he is very gifted and you can't say no to a player who has scored that many goals in this league. I always think that over night you don't become a bad player. Somehow you might not fit into a system or a style, but you don't become a bad player. The thing with Ronald when he first got here is that we were wondering how good he was going to be, but after the preseason, we all knew that Ronald was going to have a good season."

Chivas USA lost their first game last Saturday under their new coach, Hans Westerhof. Did you see a difference in the way Chivas USA played under a new coach?

DK: "I didn't see much of a difference on Saturday, but Thomas [Rongen] is a good coach. He is very organized and he knew what he was doing. I think it might be a different formation on Sunday when we play them, maybe a different attitude, because you always have that spark when a new coach comes in. I have also heard that they might have some new players coming in sometime. But right now we know their personnel, we know that whatever is coming, our job is to make sure that the guys have no surprises when they step onto the field. We need them to know the Chivas USA strengths and weaknesses, and we need to try and cancel out their strengths and focus on their weaknesses. It is kind of boring, because I say that every week, but that is always the same message we want to give to the guys."

Have you been surprised that Chivas USA have struggled so far in their first MLS season?

DK: "I think their results have been poor, but their play hasn't been that bad. They have had bouts of inconsistency. The game where they lost to L.A. 2-0, even Steve Sampson said that Chivas could have been winning 60 minutes into the game. So, it is one of those situations where maybe they are going through some expansion growing pains. But, I think even Antonio Cue (CD Chivas USA Investor/Operator) has said that he didn't expect MLS to be this hard. We have always said that this is a lot better league than people give it credit for. But, I think that a post here and shot different there changes results, and right now they are really getting punished for mistakes."

How important is Sunday's game against Chivas USA?

DK: "It is an important game. We are nine points ahead of them right now, and it is a conference game, so you have to think about that six-point swing of three points one way and three points the other way. So, we need to get a positive result. If we do then we are 12 points ahead. That is a considerable gap. We always say that our first goal in the regular season is to make the playoffs, because once you make the playoffs and you get healthy, you can find a rhythm where no one can touch you, which we have done in the past. You always want to get a gap between yourself and your opponents so that maybe your entrance into the playoffs is a little bit earlier than expected and that gives you confidence knowing that you have a little bit of a gap. I think you play more freely as you feel the pressure is not as great."