SAN JOSE, Calif. – The inclusion of San Jose Earthquakes left back Justin Morrow on the US national team roster for this month’s critical World Cup qualifiers might have taken most people by surprise.
For the Quakes, though, it simply validates their offseason strategy of using their available funds to purchase depth in bulk – picking up or reacquiring the likes of Nana Attakora, Dan Gargan, Ty Harden, Peter McGlynn, Colin Mitchell and Tommy Muller – rather than spending it all on one or two high-priced attackers. And that tactic allows San Jose to be cheerful over Morrow’s itinerary, which potentially includes appearances against Costa Rica on Friday (10 pm ET, ESPN/UniMas) and in Mexico City next Tuesday (10:30 pm ET, ESPN/Univision), rather than ruing his absence.
“I’m thrilled for him,” Quakes star Chris Wondolowski said of Morrow at practice Tuesday. “I think he absolutely deserves it. I was lucky enough with him to experience January camp, and I think he showed unbelievably. He was one of the best players out there, and I think he definitely deserves it. ... I think if he does get an opportunity, he’ll show them that he can make a difference.”
Morrow has already proven he can make a difference for the Quakes; it was his goal from the edge of the area that gave San Jose a road point in Columbus on Saturday.
“You can’t ever stop success, so for me, for players to get called into the national team, we’re doing our job,” Quakes coach Frank Yallop said. “I’m really proud of the guys [getting] to a point in their game where other people are recognizing it, i.e. Jurgen Klinsmann, [Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suárez] and so on.”
Combined with the previously announced call-up of center back Víctor Bernárdez for Honduras, Morrow’s departure leaves the Quakes backline in a state of flux ahead of a crucial home match against the Seattle Sounders.
Attakora “most probably” will fill in for Bernárdez, Yallop said. It would be Attakora’s first MLS appearance since returning to San Jose this offseason following a stint in Finland. Canada wanted Attakora for matches in Qatar against Japan and Belarus, but the Quakes would not release the 23-year-old for a pair of friendlies halfway around the world.
As for Morrow’s spot, Yallop could slide Ramiro Corrales from midfield to left back, where he played for years before Morrow’s emergence. But that leaves a hole on the left wing, which would presumably need filling by either second-year player Sam Garza or newly signed Walter Mart´ˆnez, a 2010 World Cup veteran with Honduras.
Alternatively, the Quakes could simply make a straight swap of Gargan for Morrow at left back.
“This is going to give opportunities to other players,” goalie Jon Busch told MLSsoccer.com. “That’s why Frank and John [Doyle, San Jose’s general manager] built this team deep and picked Nana up, and picked Ty up and picked Dan up. It’s another test for us, to see where our depth is.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.