SAN JOSE, Calif. – The cavalry isn’t quite fully on the scene for the San Jose Earthquakes, but their hoofbeats can be heard loud and clear.
When Marcus Tracy suited up for San Jose’s 1-0 win against Seattle last Saturday, it was the first sighting of one of several Quakes attackers who have been missing from the club’s first four games this season due to injuries sustained last year or during the offseason.
By his own estimation, Tracy only could have given “10, 15 minutes max,” and was pressed into uniform partially because the Quakes were further depleted by national-team duty for Víctor Bernárdez and Justin Morrow.
Still, it was an exhilarating moment for Tracy, who has been battling knee and ankle problems for years, and hadn’t suited up for San Jose since joining them last September. The 2008 Hermann Trophy winner last played in a competitive match in November 2009, as a member of Danish side Aalborg BK, and has undergone three knee surgeries since then.
“It’s definitely a big step,” Tracy said. “It’s been a while, over three years since I was named to a game-day roster, so it’s a big step in my comeback to full health. I’m just excited about getting on the field in a couple of weeks, or however long it is, and contributing.”
Best of all for the Quakes, Tracy’s not the only one getting closer to the point of contributing. At training Tuesday, midfielder Marvin Chávez (right MCL sprain) and forward Alan Gordon (left foot surgery) were seen drilling with first-team players, although in limited roles. On another part of the pitch, Tracy continued to work on his fitness, along with midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy (left ACL tear), right back Steven Beitashour (sports hernia) and forward Steven Lenhart (right knee surgery).
It was especially heartening for coach Frank Yallop to see Gordon and Lenhart in cleats; they had been doing on-field work in running shoes previously.
That San Jose have opened 2-1-1 even without the use of so many players has eased the pressure on that group to rush themselves back and put their long-term recovery in danger – but only to a certain point.
“When you’re hurt, you always feel pressure to get on the field and play, because you want to repay the coach’s faith and patience in you,” Tracy said. “Certainly, with the guys doing well and getting opportunities, that’s great to see.
“And it does take the pressure off, a little bit, but when you’re injured, that’s always in the back of your mind, because that’s what you’re here to do. That’s why you’re being paid, to be on the field and help the club. So yeah, we’re certainly eager to get back out there.”