SAN JOSE, Calif. — For San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Jacob Peterson, this weekend’s road trip comes with an unusual item on the typical to-do list: Finish packing.
However, that only comes after item No. 1: Break a 12-match winless streak.
With the Quakes venturing north of the border Saturday night (7 pm ET, watch LIVE online), Peterson will get a chance to pick up possessions he left behind last month when Toronto FC dealt him to San Jose as part of a four-player deal. And the Quakes will get a chance to pick up three critical points against one of only four teams that currently sit behind them in the MLS standings.
“Anybody who plays their former team, maybe they’ll be politically correct and say that there’s not [added motivation], but there always is, especially with it being this fresh,” Peterson said. "There’s definitely more at stake individually, but more importantly, as a team. It’s a huge game, a chance for us to get three points and right this ship.”
Peterson, defender Nana Attakora and forward Alan Gordon were all part of the package Toronto FC shipped to the Quakes in exchange for forward Ryan Johnson and allocation money. Gordon is still recovering from surgery earlier this month to fix three different torn muscles, but Peterson and Attakora are up for inclusion in San Jose’s travel squad.
Unfortunately for them, neither man is at 100 percent; Peterson is still feeling the effects of a strained left hamstring while Attakora is nursing a left calf strain.
“I still don’t have that sharpness I had before the injury,” Peterson said. “My passes aren’t as crisp, my movement maybe isn’t what it was before. It’s a battle, but it’s feeling good these days.”
Said Attakora: “It’s getting there. I still feel it, but it’s one of those things where I’m going to have to play through it.”
As a Canadian youth international and a Toronto native, the match has meaning for Attakora beyond simply facing a former employer.
“It’s going to be fun,” Attakora said. “All my friends and family are going to be there. ... Definitely, that’s one game I really want to win.”
Attakora and Peterson will also take the opportunity to catch up with friends still on Toronto’s roster.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Julian de Guzman, who was a key person at that club in [terms of] my development,” Attakora explained. “I still talk to him every day since I’ve been here. He knows the situation I’m going through, with all the injuries I’ve picked up, and he’s keeping me positive, just telling me to work hard and get through it.”
Peterson said Tuesday that Quakes coach Frank Yallop hadn’t picked his brain for scraps of intel that could be folded into San Jose’s gameplan. But he expects to have a discussion on that topic.
“They’ve made a lot of changes, but I’m sure everybody here knows [Johnson] and the guys that they’ve brought in have been around in the league,” Peterson said. “Obviously, Nana and I have a little bit more insight — and Sammy [Cronin, traded from Toronto to San Jose midway through last season] — and we’ll pass that along.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. On Twitter: @sjquakes