After beginning the season sorely lacking an offensive threat down the flanks, it was gratifying for the Quakes to see both right back Steven Beitashour and right midfielder Marvin Chávez training fully on Tuesday, two days removed from their 2013 season debuts.
Coach Frank Yallop said that he expects to see Chávez join Beitashour in the starting lineup Saturday as the Quakes travel to face Chivas USA (10:30 pm, MLS Live), although 90 minutes would be a stretch. If Chávez does open on the wing, it would get San Jose as close to their first-choice preseason starting XI as they’ve been all year. The only potential omissions would be defender Jason Hernandez, still sidelined by a sore calf, and forward Alan Gordon, who will serve the second of a four-game suspension.
“He’s desperate to play,” Yallop said Tuesday of Chávez, who came on in the 60th minute against the Timbers after missing three months with a sprained knee ligament. “He’s not [fully] match-fit, obviously, but I thought he did very well. ... He’s a very confident person in his ability and he made a difference when he came on. The individual stuff he did, him being out there, I think he just lifted the crowd, lifted us a little bit.”
Chávez did not necessarily share Yallop’s assessment, however.
“I didn’t live up to my expectations of what I wanted to do coming into the game,” Chávez said after the game, through a translator. “I didn’t contribute as much as I wanted to, to the team. But the good thing is I got the minutes under my belt. I played, I didn’t feel any pain in my knee, have any problems with my knee. So I think in the next games you’ll see a different Marvin.”
Best of all, the Quakes will see a different Marvin alongside the same old Beitashour. The 26-year-old, who underwent two surgeries to repair a sports hernia after the first wasn't successful, looked none the worse for wear in going all 90 minutes versus Portland, twice providing critical sliding tackles to break up shots.
Additionally, Beitashour unfurled some of the 40-yard passes that made him highlight-reel fodder over the past two seasons. One ball was just inches away from possibly being turned into MLS Goal of the Week material by Chris Wondolowski, who got a boot to the ball but couldn’t turn it on frame.
For Wondolowski, the near-miss was a sign of how close the Quakes are to maybe recapturing the form that carried them to a Supporters’ Shield title in 2012.
“It’s huge,” Wondolowski said of the return of Beitashour and Chávez. “It stretches defenses, it makes them have to extend themselves, too. They have to step out there. They can’t just keep backtracking and clear balls away.
“[Beitashour and Chávez] are not one-dimensional; they can take it inside, they can take it outside, use both feet, put crosses in. Marvin can shoot; he cut it in and hit a great left-footed shot. It makes it tough for defenses, which makes it easier for us to find space. ... I thought Beita had a couple great balls in. We were just missing a little bit, but I think it’ll be very soon when we’re back together.”