SAN JOSE, Calif. — Even the San Jose Earthquakes themselves can admit it: Their days of sneaking up on people are pretty much at an end. A six-match unbeaten streak — the third-longest current mark in MLS — will do that to a team.
“To go on a run like that,” Quakes defender Jason Hernandez said, “people notice, and are going to give you their best effort.”
This is San Jose’s longest unbeaten stretch since a nine-gamer in the second half of 2008, the Quakes’ first season after being reborn in the wake of the previous franchise’s scampering off to Houston. The main difference is that while that streak came too late, following a 3-9-3 start, this one has given fresh life to the Quakes, who sit at 5-4-4 heading into their match Friday at Kansas City (8:30 pm ET, FOX Soccer) and are in the thick of the playoff race.
To coach Frank Yallop, it’s all a matter of trying to maintain the same course and heading up the table, racking up points even in the absence of star Chris Wondolowski and effective winger Ryan Johnson.
“[We’ll] just continue the training that we’ve been doing and continue the belief that we can win any game,” Yallop told MLSsoccer.com. “I think that’s been really good with our guys. Once we got it all figured out and working like a unit, we found that we started to win games.”
And in impressive fashion. San Jose have not only won four of their last five matches, but three of those wins have come by multiple goals as the Quakes have finally located their killer instinct.
Not that goalkeeper Jon Busch wants to entertain such thoughts, preferring instead to adhere to the “keep it simple, stupid” theory of preparation.
“We’re the Bad News Bears,” Busch told MLSsoccer.com. “We just go and play. We don’t really talk about the streak. We’re not concerned about the streak. We’re just concerned about picking up points every game and moving up the table.”
To that end, San Jose will look to build on their 4-2 win at D.C. United last week. It was the Quakes’ first four-spot on the road in nearly eight years and highlighted the fact that just because Yallop wants to be rock-solid in the back, it doesn’t mean he’s willing to play for a scoreless tie — even against a Kansas City side that hasn’t lost in four matches.
“We played a team that was unbeaten in five on Saturday and something had to give, obviously,” Yallop said. “There’s no difference to this game. ... We’re not going out to sit back. We’re going out to try to get points.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes