SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes swear they really aren’t looking to make a “Goonies” sequel this season.
That said, in their beat-up current state, they’ll take three points in any fashion – even if it means stealing them with a pair of goals in the final 15 minutes, as they did so often in 2012.
“Any time you have a late win, it’s always nice,” explained Quakes star Chris Wondolowski, whose 92nd-minute penalty secured a 2-1 win against New York on Sunday. “It adds character, but we don’t want to make a habit of it again. ... We’re not at our absolute fullest, so it’s just nice to get any points we can.”
For the Quakes, making do without the injured quartet of Steven Beitashour, Marvin Chávez, Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart, any point in March is almost a bonus. After winning the Supporters’ Shield last year but being bounced out of the playoffs by the fourth-seeded LA Galaxy, the Quakes are less focused on leading the table during the regular season, and more concerned about their long-term health and maintaining a playoff push.
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“I think three points is very important this time of the year, especially in our second home game. You don’t want to have just a tie or a loss,” Quakes coach Frank Yallop said. “But it’s just one match, though, so we’ve got to build on that and not get too carried away.”
Midfielder Sam Cronin told MLSsoccer.com that San Jose refuse to lower expectations heading into their first road match of the season at Columbus on Saturday (5:30 pm ET, MLS Live) , even with so much firepower stuck on the bench.
“Once you start thinking about expectations, you’re kind of doing yourself a disservice, if you’re worrying about injuries or whatever,” Cronin said. “We have to put in a good week of training and get whoever’s playing ready, focused and together, and then go out and fight and battle for 90 minutes. Everything else kind of takes care of itself. That’s what we did last season. When we just focus on the process, I think our team is good and prepared for every game.”
Yallop is hoping that playing time being forced upon some younger or previously little-used members of his roster will help strengthen his side for the congested schedule that CONCACAF Champions League play will bring during the summer and fall.
“Would we like to have everyone available? Absolutely, because we have good players that are not playing right now,” Yallop said. “Having said that, the guys that are playing are doing a terrific job of staking their claim to play, whenever they get a chance to. And obviously, with the game log that we’ve got coming up, there’s going to be a lot of games throughout the year, and it’s nice to see that you can rely on guys.
“If we keep going and doing well, it only bodes well for our team. Competition for places is always what good teams thrive on, and I think.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.