Say what you will about the San Jose Earthquakes.
Say that they don’t do a good enough job holding onto early leads — as was the case Saturday when hosts Colorado came back from Chris Wondolowski’s 19th-minute strike.
Say that they don’t convert enough chances — as was the case against the Rapids, a match in which the Earthquakes arguably could have been up 3-0 at the half.
Just don’t say that, in spite of inexorably narrowing playoff odds, the Quakes are phoning in the remainder of their schedule.
Despite being at the point where they need to win their remaining four matches — and even then, probably still could use some help — San Jose (6-11-13) have not succumbed to the idea that it’s OK to start easing back on the throttle at the probably meaningless tail end of an eight-month-long schedule.
“Numerically, we’re still in it,” Quakes defender Steven Beitashour told MLSsoccer.com. “There’s a bunch of teams sitting on the playoff bubble, at the bottom of the pack. Just having that slight possibility keeps us going. The players, the coaches won’t let us quit. Even if we were out of it, don’t think the personnel would quit.”
The Quakes’ continued willingness to fight — despite some fatigue issues in the Rapids’ mile-high home as San Jose finished a three-games-in-eight-days stint — have been gratifying for coach Frank Yallop to see.
“Different things come to test you, and I think we’ve passed the test, because the guys that have played gave everything they’ve got, never ever quit on themselves or the team or the coaching staff,” Yallop told MLSsoccer.com. “That’s a really good thing for any group of men to do. You go through adversity, you find out who [your good] characters are, and I think there’s a lot of good characters in there. They’re good people.”
To Simon Dawkins, the answer to how the Quakes have managed to keep the faith in themselves has to do with eliminating any other possible route.
“As football players, we have to do that, otherwise we’re never going to turn the corner, you know?” Dawkins told MLSsoccer.com. “We have to keep our faith and keep going.”
“Keep going,” in this instance, means looking for a second win since mid-June when Sporting Kansas City come to Buck Shaw Stadium this Saturday.
More importantly, it means putting in the effort, regardless of anything and everything else.
“We’d love to win the league every time we play, but it gives you a nice feeling when they’re sticking together,” Yallop said. “We’re all sticking together, and nobody’s got down on each other to the point where there’s any blaming or finger-pointing.
“We’re together anyways. We win together, we lose together. We tie together.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes