After settling for draws in their first two games -- turning a 2-0 lead into a 2-2 tie against New England and allowing a late Chivas USA goal for a 3-3 result -- the San Jose Earthquakes were hit by the late-goal bugaboo once again in Chicago last Saturday, surrendering a stoppage time goal to turn a 1-1 draw into a 2-1 loss.
But the Quakes remain optimistic that a little fine-tuning is all that is needed to turn things around in what is typically a very forgiving MLS regular season.
"We're optimistic from the standpoint that we're creating chances at home and on the road," said San Jose head coach Dominic Kinnear. "But you want results."
Kinnear is not expected to make any major defensive lineup changes this Saturday against Kansas City; however, the Earthquakes are exploring the possibility of using forward Dwayne DeRosario in a central midfield role.
"It's something we're looking at today," said Kinnear at Thursday's training session. "We'll make the decision tomorrow, but it's something we wanted to see in training. We finished the game in Chicago with him in there and we were moving the ball pretty well."
DeRosario entered the Chicago game in the 70th minute as a substitute for Ricardo Clark and provided a spark to the team in the center of midfield. DeRosario, who has spent the vast majority of his MLS career at forward, has also appeared as a wide midfielder for San Jose, but he has never started a league game in the center of midfield.
"As of right now, I think so," said DeRosario, when asked if he expects to start. "Usually when I play up front, I come back to the midfield to get the ball anyway, so it won't be a problem for me to adapt to that."
If DeRosario does start, he will be called upon to help the team hold the ball in the midfield. One of the problems the Quakes have had late in games has been their inability to keep the ball away from the opposition.
"[Kinnear] wants me to sit behind the forwards and play in more of an attacking role," said DeRosario. "But also, on the defensive side of things, to stay with Danny (O'Rourke) and close down the midfield."
In addition to not being able to hold possession consistently, the Quakes have conceded goals in a variety of ways. San Jose has especially had difficulty defending crosses, as all three goals by Chivas USA and both the goals by Chicago came on balls played into the box from the wings. Poor communication has been a constant theme in the back for the club.
"You just have to address it and move on," said Kinnear. "We recognize that these breakdowns have been happening, but to keep hammering away at it and with negative information is not a good response."
Danny Kadah is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.