SANTA CLARA, Calif. — With Shea Salinas and Marvin Chávez both healthy enough to return to full-time action this weekend, the San Jose Earthquakes likely won’t know just how much they miss Mehdi Ballouchy until they need to bleed off the last five minutes of a playoff match.
Ballouchy, who started San Jose’s last four matches, is lost for the season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee against FC Dallas on Saturday. That means Salinas (above), who returned this past Saturday from a six-game absence with a muscle strain, could open against Colorado this weekend on the left wing, opposite Chávez.
“Having Shea healthy again, along with Marvin, gives us options,” Quakes coach Frank Yallop said. “But it’s a blow, because I thought [Ballouchy] was playing well.”
It’s a testament to the Quakes’ renewed depth that they are in line to once again keep the beat even after a contributor goes down due to injury. But with his ball-handling and passing skills, Ballouchy would have been a primary option for Yallop to use in salting away postseason results.
“We definitely have depth, but Mehdi will still be missed,” Salinas told MLSsoccer.com. “He brings a dimension that Marvin and I don’t. He can tuck in and keeps the ball really well. I feel like he and Simon Dawkins can pass the ball back and forth for 90 minutes and no one else would ever get it.”
Dawkins was held out of training Tuesday as he recovers from a sprained right ankle, but he could train Thursday and Friday, with positive results presumably leading to his availability against the Rapids.
Rookie winger Sam Garza, just making his way back into training after his own ankle sprain, is not considered a viable option for playing time at this point. Ramiro Corrales, who has seen time at left midfield of late, will likely be needed at left back against the Rapids due to Víctor Bernárdez’s suspension and Ike Opara’s concussion-like symptoms.
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.