SAN JOSE, Calif. — San Jose Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop isn’t so much choosing a lineup at this point as running a triage center.
Facing a 10-match winless streak with the Colorado Rapids coming to town, Yallop’s options became a little bit more restricted Tuesday when striker Alan Gordon underwent surgery to repair tears in an abdominal muscle and both hip adductors.
Gordon will recover for two weeks in Santa Monica, Calif., where the surgery took place, and then is scheduled to return to San Jose for full-time rehabilitation work. There is no official timetable for his return to action, although Gordon said Saturday after scoring a game-tying goal against Portland that he was hoping to be back within three to five weeks.
“Hopefully he’ll be at least back towards the end of the season, and then we’ve got him for next year, too,” Yallop said.
San Jose were a bit blindsided by the problems plaguing Gordon, who was part of a three-player package acquired from Toronto FC on July 14. Because players sign their contracts with MLS under its single-entity umbrella, players dealt between league clubs do not undergo pre-trade physicals with their new teams, unlike out-of-contract players looking to sign a new deal.
So the Quakes, who had watched Gordon play a full 90 minutes in his final match with TFC, remained in the dark as to how extensive his injuries were until he arrived in San Jose.
After scoring a point-saving goal Saturday against Portland, Gordon said that he felt he was "misdiagnosed" by TFC's medical staff, and was frustrated that he hadn't had surgery sooner after struggling with pain for three months.
Asked if there should be a rule affording teams the opportunity to give their own physicals before completing a trade, Yallop agreed it would help avoid similar situations.
“It would help the player,” Yallop said. “It would help the club, for sure, that’s trading for him. We could have sent Ryan Johnson there injured. I don’t think Toronto are trying to do anything wrong. They cleared Alan to play, so he’s ready to go. But it would help, just to clear everything up. And in hindsight, would we have done a trade to get someone who’s going to have surgery in a week or so? Probably not.”
There was one piece of good news Tuesday on the Quakes’ injury front: Yallop said that Simon Dawkins, one of San Jose’s most creative offensive playmakers, is expected to be able to play against the Rapids after missing three-and-a-half matches with a strained right hamstring.
Even if Dawkins is only available as a second-half substitute because of match-fitness concerns, his presence could still be invaluable to a San Jose team which has slid from owning the league’s best goals-per-match figure back in mid-June (at 1.54) to a current tie for 13th with expansion Vancouver (1.09).
“I think if you look at our record when we’ve got most of our players, I think it’s pretty good, pretty decent,” Yallop said. “But when you kind of have a few guys that are key to you out — i.e., three forwards [in] Alan, [Steven] Lenhart and Dawkins — it kind of takes out that really pure finishing.”
As the transfer window begins to draw shut, the Quakes have brought in some new faces as trialists. The most notable among them is Italian attacker Andrea Pisanu, a 29-year-old former youth international with more than 70 caps in Serie A, almost all earned for Parma from 2004 through 2008.
Pisanu, who will be in San Jose for the remainder of the week, said he’s still under contract with Bologna, which would be an obstacle for the Quakes to overcome; the cost of a potential transfer fee from a Serie A club, even one near the bottom of last year’s table, could easily price him out of the Quakes’ market.
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes