SAN JOSE, Calif. – As the San Jose Earthquakes try to finish off their pursuit of the second Supporters’ Shield in franchise history, it looks like they’ll be getting some internal reinforcements.
Midfielder Shea Salinas and defenders Jason Hernandez and Jed Zayner all returned to practice on Monday after resting up to heal various muscle strains. With Hernandez and Salinas both telling MLSsoccer.com they expect to be available for selection, coach Frank Yallop should have a full roster to choose from when picking his game-day 18 to face Chivas USA on Saturday at the Home Depot Center.
“With injuries in mind, you don’t want to put anybody at risk, but you want to get to a point where you feel your starting unit, going into the playoffs, is set and ready,” said Yallop, whose club became the first MLS side to clinch a playoff berth over the weekend. “That’ll work out over the next seven games.”
Yallop said Monday that “there’s probably 15 [players] that have a chance of starting” when the Quakes hit their second postseason since being re-established in 2008.
“There won’t be someone who hasn’t played any minutes, and all of a sudden, ‘Hey, you’re in,’” Yallop told MLSsoccer.com. “What we’ve done so far has worked well for us, so we’ve got to make sure that we continue that.”
San Jose currently have 15 field players who have logged at least 11 appearances and 547 minutes. Included in that group are Hernandez (1,731 minutes in 21 games) and Salinas (944 in 15), who want to get up to speed as quickly as possible after missing two and three matches, respectively, with hamstring problems.
“It feels very good to run around again,” Salinas told MLSsoccer.com. “The touch isn’t there yet, but it felt good. My focus is to get fit again and get sharp again. I imagine I can do that in a week or two.”
After that, it’s a matter of trying to show well and catch Yallop’s eye as he prepares the Quakes for the postseason.
“There’s a large number of guys who’ve played well and contributed this season,” Hernandez told MLSsoccer.com. “The bottom line is, the best 11 are going to play. My job is to come out here and play to the best of my ability.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.