When informed that his club was leading the league in goals scored, San Jose Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear responded, "Oh, we do?" Of course, Kinnear can be forgiven if his attention has been elsewhere as his team has struggled out of the gates with a 0-1-2 mark.
The Earthquakes will be looking for their first win of the season when they take on the Kansas City Wizards this Saturday night at Spartan Stadium. And in doing so, the Earthquakes could find themselves as high as second place in the tightly bunched Western Conference.
"You want to get that first win, so all of a sudden when you look up -- we could jump a couple places in the standings," said Kinnear. "It's important just for confidence because sometimes guys put a lot of pressure on themselves when things aren't going well."
The storyline for San Jose has been pretty consistent throughout the first three games of the season. The Earthquakes have played very well at times, so-so at others, but the one overriding constant has been letting points slip away by conceding late goals. Then again, with four of six teams making the playoffs out of the West, which at this point appears to be the weaker conference (Eastern Conference teams are 4-1-2 against the West), it's never too early to start thinking about the MLS Cup Playoffs.
"In this league, playoffs are everything, so hopefully we'll start to kick in when the playoffs roll around," said Dwayne DeRosario. "We basically have a new team, so everyone's still jelling."
DeRosario is expected to make his first start of the season for San Jose, though not in his customary position up front. The Canadian international will most likely play in front of Danny O'Rourke as an attacking midfielder, a role which he performed well for the final 20 minutes of last Saturday's 2-1 loss to Chicago.
"First of all, he's dying to play - he's trying to get in there any which way he can," said Kinnear. "He just adds another attacking option from a different place on the field."
With DeRosario and O'Rourke providing a different look in the middle, one is more of an attacking role with the other in a defensive posture, Kinnear is hopeful that his team will be able to address some of its defensive problems by strengthening the attack, especially in the late stages of the game.
"We need to possess the ball better, defend, attack everything in both boxes," said Kinnear. "We just have to be the first to everything and just have a very aggressive attitude."
Unlike many teams in the league this year, Kansas City comes in with pretty much the same cast of characters from the team that won the Western Conference regular-season title and knocked the Quakes out of the playoffs before ultimately losing to D.C. United in the MLS Cup Final.
"We need to move the ball fast because they are organized," said Kinnear. "They get a moniker of a counterattacking team, but I don't necessarily agree with that. They're just an organized team and people know their roles."
The Quakes must contend with the attack-minded trio of Chris Klein and forwards Davy Arnaud and Josh Wolff if they hope to improve their defensive production. Klein will likely be up against Brad Davis in an intriguing matchup of two of the most effective attack-minded outside midfielders in the league.
"Chris Klein likes to attack and he's a very strong runner," said Kinnear. "But Arnaud and Wolff play together also, (Jack) Jewsbury pops up with the odd goal every once in a while, (Kerry) Zavagnin and (Diego) Gutierrez hold the ball well and hold their positions well, and they're strong defensively."
"The Game of Their Lives": Thursday night's screening of "The Game of Their Lives" drew an enthusiastic throng of viewers at the Century Capitol 16 Theaters in San Jose. Quakes general manager Alexi Lalas introduced the film to the group and Earthquakes players including Brian Ching, Brad Davis, Orlando Ramirez and Brett Rodriguez were on hand to sign autographs. Spoiler alert: Several MLS players make a cameo, including former Earthquakes star Landon Donovan. Oh yeah, and the U.S. beats England 1-0.
Danny Kadah is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.