SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Jose Earthquakes might just be taking an amended page from the book of Satchel Paige, who once famously quipped, “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”
Even as the Quakes’ season faces the possibility of being eclipsed by the team’s franchise-worst 10-match winless streak, San Jose aren’t taking a look at the MLS standings, where many somethings have been gaining — and passing — the 2010 conference finalists.
After coming from behind for a 1-1 tie against Portland last Saturday, San Jose sit four points out of playoff position, needing to pass four teams over the course of their final 11 matches.
“I don’t think anybody is [concerned]," said Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch. "We’re not worried about the stats. We know what we have to do.”
That would be win, and win often, in the best-case scenario, beginning with Saturday’s match against Colorado (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), one of only four remaining at Buck Shaw Stadium this year.
Last season, the Quakes enjoyed some fine fortune in recording nine one-goal victories, the third-highest total in the league. This year, they have only one in league play: a 2-1 decision over New England on May 21.
That’s led to a lot of talk about San Jose’s lack of luck, and the fickle nature of that elusive item.
“Last year, for a lot of reasons, we had games and bounces go our way, and I think this year, kind of the opposite has happened,” Quakes defender Jason Hernandez said. “But that’s the game. Good teams find a way to deal with it and get through it.”
To general manager John Doyle, if the Quakes could get one or two breaks, that would start the ball rolling, momentum-wise.
“We just need to get on the right side of a bounce here or there, and then a little confidence comes,” Doyle said.
Coach Frank Yallop has tried hard to ensure that his players don’t carry any thoughts of the Quakes’ streak — which dates back to a 4-2 victory against D.C. United on June 11 — onto the field. And that they know they still have his backing.
“For me, it’s always about believing in yourselves, and I’ve never, ever doubted the players, because they’ve given me everything they have in most situations,” Yallop said. “Last week, I just said to them, ‘Just go play. ... Go and enjoy the moment. Don’t worry about the result, because I worry about the results. Me and John, we’ll take [the pressure] off you. Just go play the game.’”
One guy who won’t be playing is forward Scott Sealy, the club’s third choice at target man behind absent Steven Lenhart and injured Alan Gordon. Without Sealy, who was felled again by a groin problem, Yallop will likely push up midfielder Khari Stephenson to join Chris Wondolowski on the front line.
If it’s not Stephenson, usual winger Jacob Peterson could also be used up top, and rookie Ellis McLoughlin is available as well.
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes