While it’s true the San Jose Earthquakes haven’t scored more than one goal in any of their half-dozen preseason matches this winter, coach Mark Watson doesn’t put much stock in anyone who doesn’t put much stock in his retooled offense.
“I think people would be foolish to put too much stake in preseason stuff,” Watson told MLSsoccer.com on Friday, just before the Quakes finished their stay at the Rose City Invitational with a 1-0 win over Jamaican club Portmore United. “You use different lineups. Guys are training hard the morning of the game. It’s a totally different thing.
“Do I want to win every game? One hundred percent. Do I want to score a ton of goals? For sure. But I think the most important thing is to just focus on the process and stick with it and work on the things you need to work on and then let it go when the season starts.”
The Quakes won two of their three games in Portland via clean sheet, beating the host Timbers 1-0 on an own goal and topping Portmore United through Cordell Cato's strike.
“Our defensive stability has been really good,” Watson said. “The team’s carried it over from last year, in terms of just being tough to break down and really organized. There’s been some really good performances in that regard. But there’s still things we’re working on – a little bit of movement stuff and just trying to get the ball to good areas where we can attack the final third.”
To that end, Watson – entering his first full season in charge of the Quakes – admitted he could use a little more time to help cement his new attacking philosophies in place before San Jose opens their season with a CONCACAF Champions League clash against Mexican powerhouse Toluca next week.
“You can only do what you can do in six weeks,” Watson said. “It would have been nice to have had a few more weeks.”
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Instead, the Quakes have one final preseason game to work on things before hosting Toluca on March 11 to kick off their two-legged CCL quarterfinal. San Jose will face their USL PRO affiliate, Sacramento Republic FC, on Wednesday in Turlock, Calif. Forward Alan Gordon, who has been sidelined to this point after offseason foot surgery, could see his first action in that game.
Additionally, it could be San Jose’s last match before adding a long-awaited final piece to their 2014 roster puzzle. Watson spoke hopefully – if cryptically – Friday of bringing on a foreign player in the near future. General manager John Doyle said last month that he was still trying to land a midfielder with the ability to be dangerous while cutting in from the wings – something the club has arguably lacked since then-Tottenham Hotspur loanee Simon Dawkins returned to England in 2012.
“We’re hopeful something is going to happen fairly quickly,” Watson said. “I would say we feel good about a situation right now.”