SAN FRANCISCO – The last time the San Jose Earthquakes visited Dick’s Sporting Goods Park is a memory they’d probably rather forget.
The Quakes suffered a 1-0 loss to the Rapids back on Aug. 7 that extended their listless run of just one win through nine matches. To make matters worse, they lost captain Ramiro Corrales to a knee injury that kept him out of the team’s next 10 games.
But perhaps nothing was more ignominious than the way San Jose lost that match. In the 25th minute, goalkeeper Jon Busch fumbled a harmless-looking cross from Omar Cummings, and the ball trickled into the net for the decisive strike as Rapids fans went wild. Busch was credited with the own-goal.
“It was just a low driven cross from my left,” Busch recounted to MLSsoccer.com on Monday. “There was nobody really around me. I came out and went for the ball, and it suddenly moved on me, skipped in and handcuffed me.”
WATCH: BUSCH GIFTS RAPIDS A GOAL
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It wasn’t a particularly bad day for Busch – the veteran made a couple of good saves the rest of the way to keep San Jose in the game. But the following week he was benched in favor of incumbent Joe Cannon, who helped the Quakes get back in the win column with a solid performance against Kansas City (Busch won the job back after Cannon subsequently broke his ankle in training).
But ‘keepers, as they say, are paid to have short-term memories. And Busch hasn’t dwelled on that moment as the Earthquakes gear up for an all-important trip back to DSG Park for Saturday’s Eastern Conference Championship (9:30 p.m. ET, FSC).
“That was the regular season,” Busch said. “This is playoff time. One good result puts us into the final. One bad result puts us on vacation.”
San Jose’s trip back to Colorado will also see Busch square off against a man he knows all too well: his counterpart, Matt Pickens. Busch was a backup in Chicago when Pickens had a dynamite season for the Fire in 2007, starting in 27 games and posting a 1.15 goals-against average (sixth-best in MLS).
Pickens left Chicago that winter for England, where he spent a season at QPR, but never made a first-team appearance. The Missouri native was unable to catch on with another British club and ended up returning to MLS, and eventually settled in as Colorado’s No. 1. Busch believes that experience made Pickens a better ‘keeper.
“He’s been solid for them,” Busch said. “He’s always been a good shot-stopper. I had the opportunity to work with him in Chicago and he was very impressive back then. He’s matured as a player, and gotten a lot more experience now. He’s solidified that spot for [Colorado] and he’s been a big part of their success.”