SAN JOSE, Calif. – San Jose Earthquakes forward Alan Gordon, tape on his sprained right ankle peeking out from under his sock, said earlier this week that he understood where coach Frank Yallop was coming from with his conservative mentality in terms of not risking nicked-up players before the postseason.
That doesn’t mean Gordon agrees with it, however.
Gordon, who suffered the injury Friday in training, was back on the pitch Tuesday and practiced again Thursday with the hope that he can convince Yallop to let him get some run in the Quakes’ regular-season finale this weekend in Portland (Saturday, 6:30 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer).
“I would like to play Saturday,” Gordon said. “That’s my goal. We want to be strong going into the playoffs. I don’t think we should have the attitude of taking any breaks or anything like that.”
That plan might run into a roadblock in the form of Yallop, who has been exceedingly cautious in recent weeks regarding players with minor injuries, not wanting them to become major before San Jose open their MLS Cup chase on Nov. 3 or 4.
“Alan was playing very well,” Yallop said. “It’s good to have him back. We’ll see how he does this week. I won’t take any risks with him at all, especially on [artificial] turf. We don’t want to risk a player who’s important to us.”
On the other side of the scale is the consideration that San Jose wants to run their unbeaten streak to nine straight matches with a convincing win that can serve as a springboard into the playoffs.
That’s where Gordon is coming from, armed with memories of his 2005 LA Galaxy team, which went into the postseason at 13-13-6 but upset the Supporters’ Shield-winning Quakes in the first round and finished by hoisting the MLS Cup.
That San Jose team was one of 11 Supporters’ Shield winners, out of 16, who failed to go on and complete the double. Out of the past nine seasons, only Columbus (2008) and the Galaxy (2011) have accomplished the task.
“Obviously, you want to be smart about injuries and maybe get some guys healthy, but I don’t think that any of us want to take the foot off the gas,” Gordon said. “And you’ve got to be in good form going into the playoffs.
"Throughout the history of the MLS, how many Supporters’ Shield winners have won [MLS Cup]? Not very many. It’s usually the team coming in hot, barely making it into the playoffs. We did it in ’05 with the Galaxy. We were the last team in, and we won because we were in good form.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.