SAN JOSE, Calif. – More than five weeks after getting hamstrung by injuries in a U.S. Open Cup tie, the San Jose Earthquakes are almost back to full strength.
Arturo Alvarez – the last player to heal from a spate of injuries in last month's Cup ouster by Real Salt Lake – is finally ready to return as San Jose travel to Seattle on Saturday.
The 25-year-old has missed the last five matches with a hamstring strain and is far from ready for a full 90 minutes, but said he could give the Quakes 20 minutes of attacking soccer at game’s end.
“I’ve just been working on my fitness, and thankfully, my hamstring’s been responding well,” said Alvarez, who had an MRI last week that showed no serious damage. “I’m 100 percent. I’m feeling good. I’ve just got to get back to [match] fitness.”
In addition to the trio of forwards, the Quakes have also seen defenders Ike Opara and Steve Beitashour knocked out of the lineup with hamstring problems. Both were available for coach Frank Yallop to select for the traveling 18-man squad, although neither will reclaim his starting spot until they get back into shape.
The team underwent a more rigorous training camp regimen, but it’s not clear if that extra work was a contributing factor.
“I think it’s just one of those unlucky things that it all happened at once,” Yallop said. “There might be something in it, but we haven’t identified it.”
The Quakes still have one injury-related absence: Striker Eduardo, who has played only 31 minutes all season, is not expected to play because of a strained oblique.
Midfielders Joey Gjertsen (left quad strain) and Andre Luiz (fluid on left knee) are slated to start despite being nicked up.
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes