The Earthquakes continued their preseason training in Charleston, S.C., on Monday morning, practicing in preparation for their second game of the Carolina Challenge Cup. The Quakes take on the Columbus Crew on Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET at Blackbaud Stadium. San Jose won the first game of the tournament on Saturday, defeating D.C. United 2-0 to improve their preseason record to 6-2-3.
Briefly Back In The Fold
For a limited time, the Earthquakes welcomed midfielder Brian Mullan back to the practice field. Mullan, who has spent much of the preseason training with the U.S. National Team for its upcoming World Cup Qualifying matches, arrived in Charleston Sunday night from New Mexico, where he did not see action in the United States 1-0 exhibition win over Honduras on Saturday.
Mullan sprained his ankle last week during a National Team training season, but was able to participate on a limited basis in several drills during the Quakes Monday morning practice.
Mullan did not stay in Charleston long, however, catching a Monday afternoon flight back to San Jose to be with his wife Kersten, who is expecting the couple's first child.
"It is good to be back with the guys, even if it is only for a short time," Mullan said. "During preseason is when you and your teammates with your club team are forming your bonds and getting to know each other, so it is important to be around everybody."
While with the national team, U.S. head coach Bruce Arena experimented by playing Mullan at right back, and he made his second-ever national team appearance and first career start on March 9 in a 3-0 exhibition win over Colombia as a defender.
"Actually, it was much better than my first cap, when I was subbed into the game," Mullan said. "Then I was feeling so nervous, but the last game, immediately when the whistle blew I forgot about the crowd and the gravity of the game and just played."
For the first time in his career, Mullan was a part of an extended national team training camp as the team prepared for its international matches.
"I thought it went real well," Mullan said. "I was trying out a new position and it was definitely a learning experience for me. It was a good opportunity for me to get on the field in that position and get over some of the nerves and jitters that comes along with your first international start, which I think I did."
Mullan returns to the Quakes and San Jose sporting a new, longer hairstyle and a distinct new facial hair look.
"It is what I like to call the stinger," Mullan joked. "You know, everyone but my wife is going to like it. I think it will all be gone pretty soon."
Wade Barrett was named captain of the Earthquakes for 2005. (SJ Earthquakes)
Prior to the Earthquakes opening game in the Carolina Challenge Cup, Earthquakes defender Wade Barrett was named the team captain for the 2005 season by head coach Dominic Kinnear and the team. Barrett wore the captain's armband for the first time in the Quakes 2-0 victory over D.C. United Saturday night in Charleston.
Barrett is entering his sixth season in MLS, but the Virginia native is in his first year back with the Quakes after a two-year absence that saw him playing in Denmark and Norway.
Barrett takes over the armband from another defender, Jeff Agoos, who served as the Quakes captain from 2001-2004.
"It means a lot," Barrett said. "It is obviously nice to have the coaching staff be confident in you. At the same time, it is not just one guy that is going to lead the team. It is everybody that is going to play that role. We are all individually responsible for our own success and the success of the team. It is not one guy."
While Barrett certainly is one of the more experienced players on a younger Quakes team in 2005, he also knows that the club is not lacking in on-field leadership.
"There are guys on the team that are going to be leaders, just naturally," Barrett said. "Pat [Onstad], Troy [Dayak], Craig [Waibel], the two Brian's [Ching and Mullan]. There are a bunch of guys that have been around for a while. The list goes on about the people that are going to be responsible for the success of this team. It will be a team effort."
Barrett is excited about the upcoming season and the opportunity to be one of the team leaders.
"You certainly carry a little bit more responsibility when you get that armband," Barrett said. "But at the same time, it is all the older guys that need to set the example. We have a great crew of old guys and we have a great crew of young guys who have shown right off the bat that they are going to be good professionals. That is what the success of the team is going to come from."
Brian Mullan training with the team in Charleston. (SJ Earthquakes)
As the preseason draws to a close, the Earthquakes have remained relatively injury-free. However, defender Eddie Robinson was forced to leave Saturday's match in the 79th minute after a violent collision with D.C. United's David Stokes left him with a concussion, a nasal fracture and several chipped teeth.
"I don't remember anything about it really," Robinson said. "I remember getting up and walking off the field and coming into the locker room and then spitting out what felt like a boatload of teeth. When the guys came in I was asking the team about 20 times if we won or not. I couldn't remember. I would ask and then 30 seconds I would ask again, because I kept forgetting."
Robinson is expected to see a doctor this week in Charleston and could be ready for the season opener against the Revolution on April 2.
"I feel fine now," Robinson said. "I am getting my nose set Wednesday morning and then hopefully about a week from there I can maybe start getting back into training. I am hoping to be back by the opener."
Carolina Challenge Cup - Game Two
The Quakes face the Columbus Crew on Tuesday in their second game of the Carolina Challenge Cup at 3 p.m. PT at Blackbaud Stadium. D.C. United faces the Charleston Battery in the second game of the evening.
The Crew defeated the Battery on Saturday night 1-0 behind a first half goal by Edson Buddle. The Quakes struggled against the Crew last season, losing 1-0 May 29 in Columbus and then suffering a heart-breaking 1-0 defeat to Columbus in San Jose on a late Tony Sanneh goal on September 8.
"We are looking to play the same way we did Saturday night," Quakes defender Wade Barrett said. "We expect Columbus to play similar to D.C. United, so hopefully we will be able to do the same things, like move the ball from side to side. Hopefully we can get some attacks down the flanks like we did against D.C. and stay organized and not give up too many chances on our end."
Davis Fires Away
Brad Davis came to the Earthquakes in the off season having already established himself as one of the more dangerous players in the league on free kicks.
Davis showed why on Saturday against D.C. United. Scoring his second goal of the game in the 18th minute, Davis stepped up and curled a perfect shot around United's two-man wall from about 18 yards away and into the near corner of the net for the goal.
"That was an ideal spot right there, right at the edge of the box like that," Davis said. "I either have the chance to swing it in if someone is crashing or a chance to whip it over the wall. If I get it over the wall with this wet grass, either the goalie is going to make an unbelievable save or it is going to find the back of the net. Luckily, it did."
"The second goal was a great individual effort from Brad," Barrett said. "He did what he wanted to do on that one."
Looking Back on D.C. The Quakes opened the Carolina Challenge Cup with a 2-0 victory over D.C. United in a game that San Jose controlled throughout much of the contest. Following the match, Quakes head coach Dominic Kinnear and several other Quakes weighed in on their thoughts from San Jose's exhibition victory:
Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear, on game: "I thought we started off the game really well. From the first minute, we were pressuring them and making it difficult. We moved the ball well when we had it. We scored two good goals. Brad [Davis] took his first one well and then his free kick was excellent. I thought all in all, I was happy for the guys to finish 90, it gives them confidence and I am happy with the result tonight."
Pat Onstad, on defense: "We are starting to jell together. Obviously the injury to Eddie [Robinson] is concerning. Hopefully he will be fit for the first game. That is a big loss for us, but at the same time Chris [Aloisi] came in and while he only played 10 minutes, he did a good job there too."
Danny O'Rourke, on game: "I think we came out real strong, we kind of took it to them and dictated the play. We got two goals on them, and then we might have taken our foot off the pedal a little bit, but I think we finished real well. It was a good effort."
Eddie Robinson, on Quakes play: "I thought we played pretty well defensively. Overall, I thought we did really well. We were a bit impatient at times, giving the ball away a bit too much. We did well to finish our chances and it was a good way to get ready for the season. We played a good game against another fit, MLS team, so it gives us a lot of optimism going into the season."
Wade Barrett, on Quakes 2-0 win: "I think everyone came out with the right attitude on Saturday. We came out strong, we played high-pressure, we were pretty organized defensively and we created the first goal, which was very nice. We didn't give up that many chances in the back and we created some chances going forward."