SAN JOSE, Calif. – With San Jose officially eliminated from MLS playoff contention Tuesday by virtue of New York’s 2-0 win against the LA Galaxy, it seems now would be the perfect time to get highly regarded rookie goalkeeper David Bingham a game or two in net against actual league competition.
Unless, of course, you’re incumbent 'keeper Jon Busch.
The 35-year-old has played every minute of every MLS match for the Quakes this season, a career-high total of 2,790 in all. And though Bingham, an All-American at Cal last year, is seen as San Jose’s goalkeeper of the future, the goalkeeper of the present has no interest in simply handing over the reins, even if it’s for what is essentially a meaningless October match.
“I prepare myself for every game and to be chosen every game,” Busch said. “Now, that’s obviously up to Frank [Yallop, San Jose’s coach] and the coaching staff, but I’ve always believed and I was raised in the system that it’s yours until somebody takes it from you. It’s mine, I work hard every day to keep it and make it mine.
“Until somebody takes it from me, I want every game possible.”
Yallop admitted Tuesday that Busch – who ranks second in the league in total saves, testimony not only to his shot-stopping prowess but also to how often the Quakes defense has been under siege this year – has “had such a good season that he sort of deserves to stay in there the whole time.”
Yet there probably won’t ever be a better time to test Bingham, a Generation adidas player who fell to the Quakes in late January by virtue of San Jose taking part in a weighted lottery in which they had only an 8.8 percent chance of winning.
Bingham began the season as San Jose’s No. 3 keeper, but midway through the year moved past Andrew Weber into the No. 2 spot. The 21-year-old made his pro debut during a July friendly against English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion and became an immediate YouTube sensation by bouncing a long pass from the edge of his own box over the head of Baggies goalkeeper Boaz Myhill for a 90-yard goal.
“Is it a chance for me to look at a young goalkeeper? Sure,” Yallop said. “I haven’t decided on that at all. We’ll know sooner or later if we’re going to do that; we only have three games left. We’ll see. For David Bingham, it’s quite a bit of time [waiting for a start]. ... I’ve got to make sure it’s the right decision for myself, Jon and the club.”
Busch said he’d respect the coaching staff and its decision, but made clear that he wouldn’t enjoy time on the bench after being – along with 12-goal scorer Chris Wondolowski – one of San Jose’s two most influential players this season.
“I’d be very disappointed,” Busch said. “I’m not going to lie. ... When I came up, nobody gave me a game. I had to earn my games. And I think that should be the same now.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.