The San Jose Earthquakes finally got a look at their latest addition at right back in their scoreless draw against Colorado on Saturday, and coach Mark Watson liked what he saw from the MLS debut of German veteran Andreas Görlitz.
Görlitz, a 32-year-old veteran of more than a decade in the Bundesliga or its second division, finally played his first competitive match for the Quakes after signing on March 4. The former Bayern Munich defender incurred a hamstring problem during San Jose’s preseason, an injury which troubled him for nearly two months.
“It was great to be back after my injury, so I was really excited for this game,” Görlitz told reporters after going all 90 minutes against the Rapids. “It was great to start here. I just struggled a little bit with the altitude. I need more fitness. But it was good. It was a good fight today, and we had a couple good chances to win the game, too.”
Teaming with Ty Harden on the left and the first-choice center-back pairing of Victor Bernardez and Clarence Goodson, Görlitz helped keep Colorado off the scoreboard as the Quakes recorded their first clean sheet in seven games across all competitions in 2014.
“I thought Andy had a good game,” Watson told MLSsoccer.com by phone from Colorado on Saturday. “He’s an experienced pro. ... It was nice to get him to the point where he was even available to play. I thought, fitness-wise, for 90 minutes he looked good.”
The timing of Görlitz’s return was made all the more important because of Brandon Barklage’s thigh contusion, which knocked him out 53 minutes into San Jose’s 2-1 loss to Columbus on April 13 and kept him from suiting up against the Rapids.
With Harden already needed to deputize for Jordan Stewart and Shaun Francis on the left side, Watson’s next option behind Görlitz was likely to bring back Cordell Cato – a winger by trade who had been pressed into emergency duty at right back early in the season, with mixed defensive results.
“Even [from] the competitive side of it, which is sometimes hard to jump right into when you haven’t played for a while, he was good,” Watson said. “He played against some good players with a bit of pace, like Deshorn Brown and some other good players, and I thought he had a great performance.”
Görlitz admitted it took him a while to get up to speed because of the lack of match fitness and that he was troubled by the altitude in Colorado. That was why he had to dial back his overlapping runs, which had been a bright spot during preseason matches.
“I like to go forward a lot, but it wasn’t on today, because I had to do my job on defense,” Görlitz said. “That was the main thing to do today. So I’m happy that we don’t [allow] a goal.”