Just cleaning off my desk with a mid-week game in Denver, another in Kansas City Saturday and the end to this five-of-six games on the road stretch in sight. Here are some quick notes and random thoughts from the road.
One quarter of the way into the regular season, the Quakes find themselves looking for an identity, more out of circumstance than anything else. Losing four starters in one week will do that to a team. What you will certainly get out of this team is hard work, teamwork and a solid effort each and every night. With a little more luck (and fewer of those damn late goals) this team would be knocking on the doors of both FC Dallas and the Galaxy. This is the only team in the league that has played each and every game this year within one goal. They have two one-goal wins, two one-goal losses, and four ties.
I suppose Dominic Kinnear would say forget about that identity thing, how about some wins, as a couple of three-point nights this week would be a great way to go into June. The Quakes play four of five at home in June, including the game June 4 against D.C. United, before which you can see the U.S. National team play a World Cup Qualifying match against Costa Rica in a viewing party at Spartan Stadium.
Landon Donovan on his first match-up with the Quakes, a team for whom he played four years, won two league titles and grew to be a man in soccer terms: "I'm sure they'll do a little bit to try to get under my skin, but we're good friends. I know a lot of them. I don't expect them to be dirty. I do expect them to try to win. It will be fun."
Unfortunately, it was the Galaxy who were having a lot more fun than the Quakes, friends of Donovan or otherwise.
I've been asked many times, both on the air and off, how I feel about Landon and how he ended up with the Galaxy. With a completely open mind, how could anybody who loves the Quakes be upset at somebody who had more than a little to do with the team winning two championships. On the other hand, only a naïve ninny would believe that the deal to get Landon in L.A. wasn't orchestrated to leave the Quakes out in the cold. I would encourage fans to express their true feelings toward Landon when the Galaxy come to town June 25 - whatever that true passion is, don't be shy.
How would we have felt if Landon had been shipped to the Columbus Crew?
Mark Chung spent about eight minutes in an Earthquakes uniform before he made a splash, getting a pass from Dwayne De Rosario and quickly sending it along to Ronald Cerritos in front of the net for the Quakes only goal in L.A. Saturday night. Chung now has 70 career assists to go with 55 goals in a ten-year MLS career. The Quakes' newest acquisition, Chung is among the top three in the league in games played, games started and minutes played, trailing Steve Ralston and Chris Henderson in all categories. Now, the latest news out of Colorado is that the Rapids have shipped out Henderson just days after trading Chung. What is going on in Colorado? We're about to find out, on May 25 with a 6:30 p.m. PT match-up against the Rapids.
This is a good time to pass along a big thank you to the folks at 1590 KLIV, the radio home of the Quakes. Few radio stations in the country have made as much of a commitment to broadcasting soccer. Thanks are due to Bob Kieve and the gang for their interest and professionalism. It's a great pleasure working with pros, and I raise a glass to a long-lasting relationship.
John Shrader has been the voice of the Earthquakes since 1996 and has worked in television and radio in the Bay Area for the past 20 years.