[INTERVIEW] Last year was a difficult transition back to MLS for Bobby Convey after playing six seasons in England. He played several different positions as the Quakes won just seven games. This year, he's played mostly in midfield and is among the league leaders in assists with nine. His cross set up the goal by which San Jose beat Los Angeles, 1-0, Saturday to retain its hold on a playoff spot.
SOCCER AMERICA: As of two weeks ago, San Jose was a . 500 team at home (3-3-2), but you beat Kansas City, 1-0, last week and with a rowdy crowd beat the Galaxy. How do you evaluate the team's performance at home this season?
BOBBY CONVEY: We’ve done well at home and we’ve done not so well at home. This is probably one of our better ones. People just have to play with confidence. At home, it’s great, we can sell out sometimes and there’s an atmosphere. Sometimes we don’t have that and it’s a little bit difficult to get up for the game. Most of the away games we’ve played well with the big crowds.
We have a lot more confidence and people are doing well in their positions. We just have to keep pushing the club forward into the playoffs.
SA: The Quakes played L.A. a month ago at Home Depot Center, scored early, took the lead again, and then gave up a late goal to tie, 2-2. In the rematch, you scored early, in the fourth minute, and though there weren't any more goals both teams had good chances. How can you balance keeping it tight defensively but still go for that second goal?
CONVEY: When you’re winning one-nil, it’s difficult because you’re kind of waiting for the end of the game. We created two or three more chances and we needed to put those away. That’s how good teams win games. We work really hard as a team and we just need to finish our chances a little more to put the games away a little earlier.
SA: You also got some great goalkeeping from Jon Busch, who lost his starting spot when he pushed a ball into his own net against Colorado. He got the spot back when Joe Cannon got injured but that can't be easy for a guy to step in there with everybody knowing why he lost the job in the first place.
CONVEY: He did well. He obviously made a few mistakes the last few games he played and it’s always difficult for the goalie: one mistake and you mess up the team. Mentally, it always gets to him. he came out and played well ... and he had three or four really good saves.
SA: The Galaxy has the league's best record, but it needed a late goal to get that tie at HDC, and you got the win at Buck Shaw Stadium. Is this a product of league parity, the rivalry between these teams, or something else?
CONVEY: Like I said after the last game, I don’t think they’re any better than any other team. They had a good run. They have the best goalscorer in the league [Edson Buddle] and you don’t always have to play well when you have a guy who’s scoring 13 goals so far. It’s a good boost for us, they’ve been shuffling recently, so it was a good time to pounce on them and push us up the table. It takes a little pressure off and gets us closer to the playoffs.
SA: You've been moved to left back the past few games because of an injury to Ramiro Corrales. Are you better equipped to play back there because of your experience in the league last year?
CONVEY: I’m not saying I want to do it, but that’s what we need right now. Ramiro not being able to play isn’t something we planned on because basically he hadn’t missed a minute all season. If we’re creating chances and scoring goals, that’s all that matters. It’s not the same as last year, when I was playing too many positions and was all over the place, basically.
SA: After you came to the Quakes last year, they traded for Chris Wondolowski. He's the team leader in eight goals this season. What effect does it have on the attack to have a player like that roaming the other team's penalty area?
CONVEY: Half of the assists I have this year are probably to Wondo. He knows what he’s doing. He makes good runs and you don’t always have to be the fastest guy in the world to be able to make good runs. He’s a pure finisher. He didn’t really get a chance in Houston and he’s come here and done extremely well.
SA: Did you and Coach Frank Yallop talk a lot about last year and what he wanted from you this year?
CONVEY: We didn't talk a lot. I talked to him probably right before the season. It was a difficult transition last season when it obviously wasn’t just me. As a team, we didn’t do well, and as the guy who has the highest profile you get the blame because you get the most money or whatever. Frank said, ‘Don’t worry about that, just come in and play.’
SA: You look stronger, fitter and more confident than last season, when you arrived from England in March. Is this simply a product of having an offseason to rest and and a full preseason with the Quakes?
CONVEY: For me, I finally had a break and got to be with a trainer I work with every year. I was able to do that and start off the season well.
I go back home to Charleston and work out there. It’s nice to go home, nobody really cares about who you are and that’s why I love living in Charleston. I just work out there twice a day for three or four weeks and it's really paid off.