SAN JOSE, Calif. – To hear the San Jose Earthquakes tell it, despite being winless on the road in 2013, it’s all blue skies as they head into the wild blue yonder for the next month.
San Jose don’t have a home match until June 29, when they host LA Galaxy at Stanford Stadium. Until then, the Quakes face a stretch which might define their season: four straight road games, three of them against teams currently sitting above them in the Western Conference standings, starting with a Saturday date with top-of-the-table FC Dallas (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online)
So far, the Quakes are 0-3-2 away from Buck Shaw Stadium, including a 4-0 spanking at Seattle on their last road trip that helped drop their road goal differential to minus-7 on the year. For goalkeeper Jon Busch, that just means the stage has been set for a stirring turnaround of form.
“It’s a good challenge for us,” Busch said. “You look at everything in a positive [light], that’s what I’ve always been taught and always done. If we pick up two, three wins all of a sudden in this stretch – which we can do, it’s not out of the realm of possibility – if we go on a good little run on road and we’re in good shape. ... It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be exciting.”
The Quakes would like to reach back to find some of their 2012 magic, when they posted a league-best 9-5-3 mark and were one of only two clubs better than .500 away from home.
“It’s nothing that this group hasn’t done before,” Quakes forward Alan Gordon said. “We were really good on the road last year, so we’ll look to be getting into that form on the road. We’ve put ourselves in a position now that we’ve got to get some points. So we’re going to go and fight and I think we’re going to come home with some points. I’m pretty sure of it.”
To that make that premonition come true, San Jose have to be able to take a lead. They have been in front for only seven minutes out of 450 on the road thus far – a brief 1-0 stretch in what became a 2-2 tie against Chivas USA last month.
On Saturday at FC Dallas Stadium, the Quakes do have their first-choice back four – Justin Morrow, Jason Hernandez, Víctor Bernárdez and Steven Beitashour – in place for just the second time this season, and they’re hoping that familiarity will help staunch the flow of goals.
“Organization has been a hurdle for us,” Hernandez said. “I just think any breakdowns, for the most part, that we’ve seen in our defense, haven’t been one guy’s fault, someone raising his hand and saying, ‘That was on me.’ It’s small, little errors as far as organizing and being in the right spot, talking to each other, that have caused breakdowns for us and we’ve paid for them.
“I think that’s something that’s a work in progress and we work on it every day. We’re still trying to perfect it and get it to where it needs to be.”