San Jose coach Frank Yallop had to think as to whether he had ever used a 3-5-2 formation – like to the one he implemented in the second half of the Quakes’ eventual 1-1 tie with Chivas USA last weekend – for a similar length of time at any point last season.
“Not with the thought of really going out to win the game [with a late comeback],” Yallop told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Friday. “I think that now, I have confidence in our ability to do anything in a game.”
That confidence has allowed Yallop to do more tweaking with regards to his week-to-week lineups and more in-game adjustments than at any point since rejoining the club when they were re-formed as an expansion team in 2008.
Injuries have whittled away some of Yallop’s short-term options; defender Víctor Bernárdez (sprained left knee ligament) and midfielders Shea Salinas (broken left collarbone) and Marvin Chávez (strained left hamstring) are all out, probably until the Quakes return from a nearly month-long break on June 20.
Yet Yallop still has the ability to shape his team according to what areas he wants to exploit, and the 48-year-old may have more tricks up his sleeve on Saturday when the Quakes host Columbus (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online). Yallop said Friday he expects Sam Cronin, the holding midfielder who started nine of San Jose’s first 10 matches this season, to probably make a return to starting XI.
Bringing back Cronin against Columbus would give San Jose another option when it comes to switching fields rapidly and accurately – something that may be of greater import given the “narrow” fashion in which the Crew operate, according to Yallop.
The San Jose boss dropped Cronin last weekend in order to pair Khari Stephenson and Tressor Moreno in central midfield against Chivas USA, a move meant to take advantage of a Rojiblancos squad that came in having scored a league-low five goals on the year.
“I knew Chivas weren’t going to come in and be adventurous,” Yallop said. “I wanted guys who were going to be more [attack-minded].”
Yallop said he felt the fact that Chivas led 1-0 at the half was less an indictment of the Stephenson/Moreno plan of attack and more about San Jose’s inability to finish; the Quakes had nine shots to Chivas’ four in the first half, and three on goal to the visitors’ one. The one, however, happened to be José Erik Correa’s first MLS goal.
Nevertheless, Yallop reshuffled his deck at the half, flipping Rafael Baca to the left wing, moving Steven Beitashour up from right back to the right wing and bringing Simon Dawkins into the middle alongside Stephenson and Moreno. The result was 15 second-half shots for the Quakes, with Alan Gordon finally finding the equalizer in the 88th minute.
“When Simon went inside, we were better,” Yallop said. “We were able to make adjustments, and they allowed me to make the changes [successfully]. We drew, but we should have won the game.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.