SAN JOSE, Calif. – The three points in the standings were much needed, but for the San Jose Earthquakes, there might have been an even greater benefit from their 2-1 victory against FC Dallas last Saturday.
Defending a one-goal lead while down a man throughout the second half, San Jose were somehow able to hold off a Dallas side that, given a similar situation last month, pumped home three goals in half an hour against 10-man Houston.
“Times like that, it really brings a group together,” Quakes coach Mark Watson said Saturday of the Dallas victory. “Everyone’s got to be fighting and pulling their weight, and that was the case. I think it’ll just galvanize us a little bit moving forward.”
It was the kind of win that could put the Quakes on an upward trajectory even as they prepare to spend several matches without the services of team captain Chris Wondolowski and center-back tandem Victor Bernardez and Clarence Goodson, all bidding for World Cup duty with their respective national teams.
“I think it’s definitely getting better,” Cordell Cato, who scored the opener against Dallas with a well-taken one-on-one finish, told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday after training. “We’ve just got to keep working. The best is yet to come.”
After opening the season 0-3-2, the Quakes have taken seven of their last 12 available points to steady the ship heading into a critical stretch. San Jose will try to keep building next weekend in Seattle without at least Goodson and Wondolowski – both of whom will stay behind in the Bay Area for US camp – and the suspended Shea Salinas.
Bernardez’s status with Honduras is still up in the air, and there are plenty of injury questions – affecting the likes of Yannick Djalo, Alan Gordon, Jason Hernandez and Steven Lenhart, among others – to be sorted through this week.
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“Obviously, you’d like to keep the same 11, but you’ve got depth in the squad that can come in,” left back Jordan Stewart said Saturday. “Ty [Harden, Goodson’s likely replacement] played last game, had a brilliant game. And then also in the midfield, as well, I think we’ve got enough players in the squad to come in and do the job.”
The Sounders are sure to be motivated after a baffling 5-0 loss at New England this past Sunday, so whichever names are in the lineup, the Quakes will still need the same level of commitment against the Sounders. Avoiding an ejection would help, too.
“We need another performance kind of like tonight,” Gordon said. “Maybe with 11 men, though. Not so much defending the whole time, but kind of building off what we’ve done the last two games.”