The San Jose Earthquakes are gunning for a third straight victory against the LA Galaxy at Stanford Stadium on Saturday night (10:30 pm ET, NBCSN), but they will have to figure out a way through the Galaxy’s defense without help from leading assist man Shea Salinas.
Speaking to reporters at Earthquakes training on Friday, head coach Mark Watson confirmed that Salinas would not be available against LA as he continues to recover from a lower abdominal strain.
“Shea, he’s had a problem for a long time that he’s been playing through and this break gave us a good chance to get him some rest, but I don’t think he’s going to be ready for tomorrow,” Watson explained. “It’s something that we want to take care of completely, and not have him carry something for the rest of the season.
“There’s still a lot of games to go and we want to get him to the point where he can play to his level and be effective.”
Watson did say that any procedure for Salinas would be a “last resort,” and that more rest should take care of the problem.
Nonetheless, Salinas' absence is likely to be sorely felt in the Quakes attack; he has five assists to his name in MLS play this year, but no other Earthquake has more than one.
The Quakes can, however, count on the services of the supremely-talented but oft-injured Yannick Djalo, who Watson said was “likely” to play in the game while also expressing hope that a two-week break from MLS play might have had a positive influence on Djalo’s health issues.
“He’s had a good chance to heal and continue with his fitness and his overall injury problems, we’ve had a good chance to really address that, so I think we’re very hopeful he’ll be ready for tomorrow,” Watson told reporters.
Djalo has shown glimpses of game-breaking talent in his short time in MLS since joining San Jose from Portugal’s SL Benfica, but staying on the field has been a major issues for the player that has played just 296 minutes across seven games, scoring one goal in the process. If he does start for San Jose, it will go a long way towards making up for Salinas’ speed and service in the attack.
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Gordon is well-remembered for his heroics in last year’s Stanford clash, when he scored in the third minute of second-half stoppage time to complete an improbable comeback. His only goal in 2014, however, came in the Quakes’ very first game of the year, a CCL contest against Toluca when he scored off the bench.
Lenhart is in slightly better scoring form, if only because he finally broke the scoring duck earlier in the midweek shootout loss to the Seattle Sounders in US Open Cup play, but Watson played it coy when the topic of who would start was broached, saying, “we’ll wait and see.”
Also in the "uncertain" column for Saturday evening is Quakes defender Victor Bernardez, who returned Friday afternoon from the World Cup after a campaign that saw him start three games for Honduras as they failed to register a point in their group stage campaign.
“He’s definitely fit,” Watson said. “I know they had a hard training camp and they obviously played all three games, I think he came out in the first game at the half with a little injury, but he’s healthy and fit. We’ll speak to him after he gets in and make a decision after that.”