SAN JOSE, Calif. — For the first time all year, when the San Jose Earthquakes take the field against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, the 2012 Supporters’ Shield winners look like they’ll finally have their most successful quartet of defenders from last season available at the same time.
It can’t come too soon.
With Nana Attakora already ruled out due to concussion-like symptoms from a clash of heads with Toronto FC’s Doneil Henry on Wednesday, Jason Hernandez will likely step into the breach after missing seven matches due to his own concussion issues and a strained calf.
Quakes fans are undoubtedly hoping that putting the band back together will staunch the flow of goals that San Jose has allowed so far. After a 4-0 defeat in Seattle on Saturday, the Quakes are tied for 15th among MLS defenses, allowing an average of 1.5 goals per game — this despite playing seven of their 12 matches to this point at home, where opponents are, generally speaking, more cautious and less adventuresome on the offensive end.
San Jose’s training started more than a half-hour late Tuesday as the club stayed in for a lengthy film session directed by coach Frank Yallop, discussing the clubs' need to improve their alertness and ability to “sense danger” defensively.
“We’ve got to stop goals going in, for sure,” Yallop said. “That’s our struggle right now.”
Several of the Earthquakes’ goals have been of a nature that made it hard for the players to do anything but rue their fates. Twice, Seattle sent shots ricocheting off the post to beat goalkeeper Jon Busch. Another goal was scored when Morrow’s attempted clearance caught Bernárdez on the shoulder and dropped to the ground for Obafemi Martins to jam home.
Beitashour said the nature of the strikes made no difference to the Earthquakes in terms of their confidence.
“Just when you guys bring them up and make us remember about them again,” Beitashour joked with reporters before turning more serious. “That’s the thing with sports. It’s part of the game. It happens. You’ve just got to see what you can do next week to improve and try not to let it happen again. We just need to work a little bit harder as a team to defend and we’re going to really focus on that this coming weekend and then go from there.”
One positive note for the Quakes: Colorado come into the weekend ranked 16th in MLS scoring, averaging just 0.91 goals per match. That might help San Jose make the kind of showing that Busch is looking for.
“To be honest, this is a good test for us,” Busch told MLSsoccer.com. “Adversity is a great thing. You find out the strength of a man through adversity — not when things are good, when things are tough. And that’s where we are right now ... We’re going to be fine. We’ve just got to tighten some things up.”