STANFORD, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes knew they faced a tough task Saturday night, facing the LA Galaxy without three of their biggest stars.
Forward Chris Wondolowski was on national Team duty in brazil, preparing for Tuesday’s World Cup match against Belgium, center back Victor Bernardez was still recovering from his World Cup play for Honduras, and the team’s leading assist man, Shea Salinas, was out, battling a lower abdominal muscle issue that’s plagued him all season.
Then, just minutes before kick off, center back Clarence Goodson was added to that list of missing starters when he pulled his groin during warm ups.
With their bench put to the test, San Jose put up a good battle but came up on the short end of a 1-0 decision.
“Our guys competed all night, [the Galaxy] just had a little more quality,” Earthquakes head coach Watson said. “It was a game where there weren’t many chances. We probably an equal number of chances as [LA] but just couldn’t finish them.”
Watson said he was not sure how long Goodson would be out of action, but added “I thought Jason Hernandez came in and did a fantastic job. He had 10 or 15 minutes to get himself mentally prepared, and he did what he always does; battle hard and give you everything he has. I thought Jason played extremely well tonight.”
Hernandez’s 200th MLS appearance also drew raves from goalkeeper Jon Busch.
“Jason is a big time seasoned professional and he did a great job. You don’t want to lose someone during warm up, but occasionally that happens, and I thought we dealt fine with that. I thought the [defense] played great tonight. I didn’t have much to do. It’s unfortunate that one play fell for [LA] and the guy finished it well.”
Looking ahead, the news is looking a bit better for San Jose as they try to regain full strength. To begin with, Victor Bernardez is expected to be back in the line-up when the Earthquakes host Chivas USA.
“He played Wednesday in Brazil, and it’s a long flight,” Watson said. “He didn’t feel he could give us 100% [tonight]. So, we decided to not include him, but he should be ready for [next] Wednesday.”
For a couple of San Jose midfielders, the news is more mixed.
“Shea [Salinas] is day to day right now,” Watson said. “He’s trying to recover from an injury he’s been carrying all season. We hoped the break would give him enough time to heal completely and he wasn’t there. We hope he improves over the next couple days and can hopefully play Wednesday, but we’ll wait and see.”
Add to the injury list Yannick Djalo, who was pulled in the 73rd minute Saturday night. Injuries have limited Djalo to playing a full 90 minutes only once so far this season.
“He’s been a frustrating one for us because he’s very dynamic and as you can see on the field he’s a very good player,” Watson said. “He’s got great feet, he gets past people, and he really changes our team when he’s on the field. Once again he had a little something that forced him to come out of the game tonight and hopefully we can heal him up for Wednesday and for the future because we want him on the field.”
Despite all the injuries the Quakes can point to, however, Cordell Cato summed it up best: “It’s a team game. Who’s ever in, you’ve got to perform. There’s not a lot more pressure than before, it’s the same. You have to perform.”