SAN JOSE, Calif. — Regardless of how the San Jose Earthquakes’ four remaining 2011 matches turn out, coach Frank Yallop knows one thing for certain: He already has changes in mind with regard to the club’s composition in 2012.
Asked Thursday if players can still make a good impression on Yallop and general manager John Doyle over San Jose’s final four games – beginning with their home date against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) – the coach laid into a small segment of his roster, although he declined to call out individuals by name.
“I don’t think it’s got anything to do with, ‘Now I’m going to start playing because it’s the end of the season and I want to get a new contract,’” said Yallop who, along with Doyle, received a contract extension earlier this year. “You should play hard every minute of every game. I know the ones that do that. The ones that don’t do that won’t be here. That’s pretty clear.
“I’m actually excited about that, to clean out some people. They can go on with their careers and we can move on as a club.”
Yallop initially said there were “a few” players in that latter situation, then amended his answer to “a couple.”
“You get that,” Yallop said. “You can’t have 30 guys [on a team], all happy. I don’t expect them to be happy, but you’ve got to make sure you are pulling for the team and make sure you give everything you have.”
Publicly, San Jose haven’t shown many cracks in their unity of purpose. Just Tuesday, Yallop was busy praising his club for not devolving into a finger-pointing blame game even as they endured a franchise-record 13-match winless streak.
Quakes defender Jason Hernandez, who is expected to return Saturday from a three-game absence because of a strained left quadriceps, said he felt the club’s chemistry this year was not dissimilar from 2010, when San Jose grabbed the last playoff spot, knocked out New York and went to the Eastern Conference Championship.
However, Hernandez acknowledged that things had changed in terms of the team’s collective mentality.
“A lot of people say it’s harder to stay [on top] than to get there,” he said. “I think in 2010, we all had this attitude where we felt like we weren’t getting the respect we deserved and we felt like we were under the radar and wanted to prove people wrong. I think maybe this year we had a bit of a hangover from 2010 and the success we had. Trying to duplicate that success and get back there, it’s a very difficult thing to do.”
Yallop didn’t feel his planning was any different than what “every other team” in MLS is doing, although he was probably more blunt than any other coach in terms of delineating those deliberations.
“We’ve got to keep players that we feel are going to help us next season and are fully committed to the team,” Yallop said. “It’ll be a busy offseason for us to add some players, but it looks that we should have some good tools to do that, with some money from the ownership group, some money from players leaving. So hopefully, we can replace them with some good, quality players that we need.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.