SAN JOSE, Calif. -- In the wake of their third straight 1-0 loss, this time at home to previously last-place Chivas USA, the San Jose Earthquakes met the following morning behind closed doors to discuss the state of their season.
Given the Quakes’ location in the standings (last in the Western Conference on 1.07 points per game) and lack of scoring (tied for last on 1.00 goals per game), the discussion could not have been very sanguine. But coach Mark Watson felt the process was constructive for the Quakes as they look to snap their losing streak at home against D.C. United on Friday (11pm ET, NBCSN).
“We just wanted everyone to speak their mind and look at everything, just get everyone's ideas,” Watson told MLSsoccer.com this week. “It’s good to talk sometimes as a group.”
The Quakes have slipped from sixth place to ninth in the absence of US national team World Cup forward Chris Wondolowski, who is expected to reclaim his spot in the lineup Friday. Wondolowski, San Jose’s captain, said he didn’t find a dispirited locker room upon his return from Brazil, despite the fact that the Quakes dropped four of six matches without him.
“I think the optimism is still there,” Wondolowski told MLSsoccer.com. “We still have the talent and the players to do it. This game, especially in this league, there’s a lot of parity, and a lot of things can change in three games. If you win three games and you get nine points, you’re right back up there.”
That would be a welcome recovery from what has been San Jose’s worst stretch of results since a 1-5-5 run early last season which culminated in the departure of then-coach Frank Yallop and Watson’s ascension to the helm.
“I think it’s key to stay positive and keep your belief and use that frustration to motivate you and work through things,” Watson said. “We’ve done it in the past. We know the character’s there to respond to adversity. And that’s something that we’re going to do again.”
A good initial step would be to rediscover the kind of play that made Buck Shaw Stadium such a tough nut for visitors to crack in the past. The Quakes are currently 3-3-3 at home, and with only eight more matches left in Santa Clara, they can’t afford to let many more points slip away there.
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“We have to start making our home more of a fortress," Wondolowski said. "That’s always been kind of a trademark of ours, and we have to get back to doing that. That’s kind of our mentality right now, to be honest. I think we’re really hungry. . . . Last year at this point, we had a point less, and we ended up losing on tiebreakers. So I think anything can happen in the second half of the year.”
“Anything” could include the addition of new faces to San Jose’s roster, in the manner of last season, when defenders Jordan Stewart and Clarence Goodson stabilized a unit that had been leaking goals and keyed an 11-5-3 run to finish the season. Watson told reporters flatly after the Chivas USA loss that the club is seeking help from outside the organization. And he reiterated to MLSsoccer.com that it wasn’t merely in one specific area.
“I think for the most part, we’re looking for a player to help improve the group, improve the depth,” Watson said. “I think sometimes just adding better players and increasing the level of competition for places can have a huge impact. So we’re looking at a few different positions.”