SANTA CLARA, Calif. – After beating Chicago last week, San Jose Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch told reporters to “slow down” when asked if the 5-1 scoreline represented a resurgence for his club.
Following a 1-0 victory against Western Conference leaders Seattle before an inaugural crowd of 48,765 at Levi’s Stadium on Saturday – the latest piece in a three-game unbeaten streak that marks San Jose’s longest such stretch this year – it might be time to give a little gas to the Quakes’ bandwagon.
Not that Busch wants to hear about it, mind you.
“Slow down,” Busch repeated. “It’s too early to say it’s a turning point. We’re playing better, and we’re getting results, but we still have a lot of work to do ahead of us. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover to get back in the playoff hunt.
"It’s a big win against a very good team. ... But again, we’ve got to keep it in perspective. Next week’s game is just as important as this game. We’ve got to start putting them together.”
The Quakes (6-8-5) authored just their second winning streak of the season to move into a tie for eighth with Chivas USA. At 1.21 points per game, San Jose are now just 0.17 off the pace of Vancouver, who are currently in line for the fifth and final playoff spot.
“It’s a fantastic win for us,” San Jose coach Mark Watson said. “I think there’s still been games prior to our last three where we have shown improvement and maybe were unlucky not to get points. I think the play’s been better and improved for a little while, and I think we’re starting to get some rewards for it.”
The Quakes could face another hurdle, however, if goalscorer Yannick Djaló – who has already missed six matches this season – is sidelined for any significant length of time with his latest muscle problem. The Portuguese attacker suffered what Watson described as a right quad strain while trying to catch up to Chris Wondolowski’s lead pass in the 61st minute, and was substituted off immediately.
“It’s a little bit early to speak about the injury, but I felt a big pain and I could not continue,” Djaló told reporters in English before gingerly walking around the locker room. “I hope it’s not a big injury.”
That would be great news for the Quakes because of Djaló’s importance so far to San Jose’s offense. In 785 minutes with the Benfica loanee in action, San Jose are averaging 1.61 goals per 90 minutes. That figure drops to 0.88 in 925 minutes without Djaló.
“It would be very tough” to have to replace Djaló, Wondolowski said. “He’s in great form right now. He’s a game-changer. He can provide a spark that we need. ... I think we’re at our deepest point right now, team-wise. I feel we have a lot of guys that can step up and play well.”
Most prominent in that group is new Designated Player Matías Pérez García, who was not included in the game-day 18 after delays in the release of his International Transfer Certificate from Argentina. If Pérez García’s ITC issues can be worked out before the Quakes travel to Los Angeles to face the Galaxy on Friday, it could help cushion the potential blow of losing Djaló.
That, in turn, could help San Jose’s momentum continue to build.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Wondolowski said. “We’ve dug ourselves a hole; we have a lot more work that we have to do. We know that. But I think that we’re starting to definitely right the ship.”