It is that time of the season where each and every game becomes meaningful. It is also the time during the season when you look back on games that you lost or tied late and think about how valuable those points are right now. But, there is no need to dwell on the past - that is what the off-season is for! It was not the most entertaining of games on Saturday, but considering the ramifications, it probably was exactly what could and should have been expected. Unfortunately for the over 27,000 in attendance they did not leave with a victory.
As the possibility of the playoffs approaches, each team is looking for an advantage. When adversity hits it is important for teams to stick together and keep their focus, otherwise they may not be playing in a few weeks. In order to stick together a team needs some sort of chemistry. Generally speaking, the team that gets along will have a better chance at success on the field than the one that does not. The question is: How do you attain and develop that team chemistry?
Some teams come together through adversity. For example, a bad call, an insulting press clipping, an injury, or even a possible relocation! Other teams gel through battles on and off the field. It is not the way a team comes together that matters, it is just that they come together. As long as I have been a member of the Earthquakes this team has believed in one another. I think all the outside influences this season have brought us closer together. The character of this team has been shown on numerous occasions this season. Our comeback against New England at home (down 2-0 with 10 men and five minutes to go and drawing 2-2) comes to mind.
Other teams come together in different ways. My 1998 Rochester Rhinos team quickly became a tight-knit group after a very competitive pre-season (there were more than a few training ground bust-ups). We had just won our second game against Jacksonville and after the game went out as a group. Let's just say there was a misunderstanding with the other team that night, but our entire team supported one another that evening and we went on to win our first 13 games and the championship. We never backed down from a battle on the field and we became a very difficult unit to beat.
This year we feel that no one except our staff and fans are behind us. This has brought us together in different ways, but ultimately it has made us a tight unit. Now is the time for us to carry that camaraderie onto the field. I thought our competitive spirit came through on Saturday. We may not have scored, but the goals will come with our talented group of players. It was the determination to stop Los Angeles from dictating the game that I felt was impressive. If we can continue to support one another and impose our will onto other teams we will have an excellent chance to make the playoffs and attempt to win another championship.
Until next time,