Dominic Kinnear's weekly conversation

Clayton Peter from Hayward, CA asks: With Brad Davis and Dwayne De Rosario leaving for the Gold Cup, how do you think the Quakes will react and who will fill their shoes in the line-up?

Dominic Kinnear: "Obviously, with Brian Mullan returning to the lineup and being healthy, that is good for us. You have people like Wes Hart, Danny O'Rourke, Ian Russell and Chris Wondolowski, who I think over the stretch of this month, will see some playing time. I think all those guys will contribute. We will sit and think about who will play for Dwayne. Obviously, Mark Chung can play in the middle. Danny O'Rourke has started games there and him and Ricardo [Clark] played well together early in the season, so those are the options we are looking at. We will have to see how it goes. Dwayne has been playing excellent before he left. We knew that he was going to be leaving, so I have to put guys out there and have confidence and faith in them and know they are going to play well for you."

Nick from Pleasanton, CA asks: You have asked Dwayne De Rosario to take on a new role this year in the midfield, and he has obviously done well. How did he react to the change of position and do you know if he enjoys playing there?

DK: "For one, I know that he enjoys playing there a lot. I must give him credit for taking on a new role and working as hard as he does. He has grown up all his life playing forward, and now he is playing midfield, but I think one thing that gets overlooked is his work-rate, he has been great for us there. I think the thing about Dwayne is he wanted to play, no matter where it would be. The position that came up for him to play was in the middle. He has played well there in a couple of games beforehand, and it was a nice transition for him and he has reacted well and positively to it."

Ray, from Sunnyvale, CA asks: Obviously you can evaluate opposing players skills by watching them in action when you are interested in trading for them, but how do you evaluate their attitude in practice, locker room, etc., which seems to be such an important part of the team?

DK: "First of all, we don't bring in players until we do a little bit of a back round check on them. That means we talk to former teammates, former coaches and ask how they are and ask how they are on the field, in the locker room, as people, as teammates. Then you watch them and figure out how well they are accepted into the team. I think most of the time they are accepted in pretty past. If it was a bad person coming in they wouldn't be accepted so easily, but we have not had that problem this year. Everyone has been accepted so we have done pretty well so far on that front."

Bill, from San Jose asks: Can you comment on the strong play of the Earthquakes defense recently and what the team has been doing so effectively to earn three straight shutouts?

DK: "I think the defense starts with the forward and the hard play of the midfield, and then to the defenders. It is all 11 guys being very committed to not getting scored on. They are very proud and I think the heart of the defense with Eddie [Robinson] and Danny [Califf] are playing very well together. But I think you have to give credit to everyone on the field. When the ball turns over, they take it on themselves to get moving the other way and limit chances."

What can you tell us about the Quakes opponent on Saturday, FC Dallas, a team that owns the best record in the West despite missing several top players due to injuries?

DK: "They are organized, you can tell that new guys are getting chances and they are making the most of them. Abe Thompson scored a few goals, [Roberto] Mina has looked very good. Mina is powerful and good on the ball. I think the defense has been together too. [Greg] Vanney is missing now, but he has been there for the majority of the time, and I think when you can hold your back four together, it gives you a sense of security. And, Ronnie O'Brien is having a great season for them. He has played very well."

After three straight wins, how are the Quakes approaching the showdown in Dallas this weekend?

DK: "We're on a bit of a good run right now, but they have been playing well too. We are looking at it like we want to make the playoffs and win the conference. I think we gained good ground on L.A. the last three weeks, and this is a chance to gain ground on Dallas. I know we are nine points behind them, and if we can get a good result there, then we are even closer. At the beginning of the season we were playing well and the results weren't going our way, now things are seeming to go our way, so hopefully our good luck of results continues."

After playing 90 minutes on June 29 against Colorado for the first time since injuring his ankle on May 14, how did Brian Mullan get through the game?

DK: "He made it through alright, he was feeling okay this morning. I think it wasn't so bad of a game because it wasn't so much back and forth. We were maintaining possession in the back, so I don't think he got too tired because it wasn't too much of a track meet. Sometimes at Spartan it can get that way, and I thought we maintained possession so he wasn't too spent at the end of the game. This morning he seems to be doing fine. All in all, for a guy who has been out and missed six weeks and then comes in for his first action, I think he did pretty well."