SAN JOSE, Calif. – To say Marvin Chávez has had an instant impact on the San Jose Earthquakes offense since coming over from FC Dallas this winter might be understating things.
In 592 minutes with the speedy Honduran winger on the field this season, the Quakes have scored 15 goals. In 248 minutes against full-strength opposition without the 28-year-old, they have just three. Per 90 minutes, that’s a strike rate of 2.28 goals vs. 1.09.
So having to make do without Chávez for an estimated two to four weeks due to a strained left hamstring is a potentially daunting task for the Quakes as they try to consolidate their hold on first place in the Western Conference before embarking on a nearly four-week break.
Not that Frank Yallop will let you see him sweat over it.
“We’ll be OK,” Yallop insisted Tuesday after training. “Simon [Dawkins] is good, Rafa [Baca] is good, Tressor [Moreno] is good. It’s a shame not having Shea [Salinas] available, [since] he’s kind of a direct replacement, with his speed and the way he plays. If he was fit now, it’d be good.
“We’ll see how Marvin gets on. I don’t think he’s out too long. Hopefully, we won’t miss him.”
Salinas, who had his sutures removed Monday from his surgically repaired broken left collarbone, is still at least a week from progressing in his rehabilitation to running on the field and has set June 20 as his targeted return date. So the most likely move for Yallop to make against Chivas USA on Sunday (7 pm ET, Galavision) will be to put Moreno back in the starting lineup and slide Baca wide right to fill Chávez’s spot.
Without Chávez or Salinas, the Quakes lack much of the speed on the flanks they worked so assiduously to add this winter. Rookie Sam Garza is another burner, but he’s pulled in just eight minutes of playing time all season.
“You get some breathing room when you break away from people,” Yallop said. “I think that was an important thing we addressed. Yeah, we’re going to miss those guys, but we’ll soldier on and make sure we do the right things to win games while they’re not there.”
Moreno, San Jose’s most heralded offseason acquisition, only started once in the club’s first six matches, but he’s made four consecutive appearances, three of them starts, and was at his most influential in the Quakes’ 5-3 victory against D.C. United. Moreno recorded his third assist and kept things humming as San Jose had their biggest single-game output since May 8, 2004.
The Quakes won their only match in which neither Chávez nor Salinas played, though it came with an asterisk: San Jose beat Real Salt Lake 3-1 on April 21, but all the goals came with either a one- or two-man advantage.
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.