This week, difficult as it is, isn’t the make-or-break stretch of the season for the San Jose Earthquakes.
After road games at Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday and D.C. United Sunday, seven of their last 11 games are at Avaya Stadium. But that run starts a week from Friday against the Galaxy, which is looking more than capable of rolling to a third straight league title, so it’s almost like a road match in regards to the opposition.
Getting something out of the next two matches, difficult though that assignment is, does have importance in building momentum for the run of home games as well as nicking the odd point.
San Jose Playoff Picture:
Record: 8-10-5. Position: 8th in Western Conference.
Home (7 games): 8/28 LA, 9/5 PHI, 9/12 SEA, 9/16 MTL, 9/27 RSL, 10/3 VAN, 10/16 SKC.
Away (4 games): 8/22 SKC, 8/25 DC, 9/19 at NYC, 10/25 at FCD.
Key match: 9/12 SEA.
Godoy took over the holding midfield slot usually filled by rookie Fatai Alashe, who was suspended. The Rapids seldom broke through the midfield and aside from a Dillon Powers shot off the crossbar, San Jose controlled the play though its own incisive attacks were few.
Clarence Goodson returned to the lineup after sitting out two weeks with a leg injury and crashed the goalmouth to redirect a cross from Quincy Amarikwa off the inside of the past and into the net. Quakes coach Dominic Kinnear is counting on his preferred centerback pairing of Goodson and Victor Bernardez to help carry the Quakes through the stretch run.The addition of Godoy and return of Goodson are obvious upgrades, but the Quakes’ season may have been saved by the trade that brought back Amarikwa. He started his career in San Jose as a 2009 SuperDraft pick and bounced to Colorado, Toronto, and Chicago before being traded back to the Quakes by Fire head coach Frank Yallop, who was coaching the Quakes at the time.
Since coming to San Jose June 26 in exchange for defender Ty Harden, whose playing prospects dimmed when both Goodson and Bernardez, a Honduran international, were not selected for the Gold Cup, Amarikwa has shouldered the goalscoring burden single-handedly. He’s started every game since the trade and until Goodson connected against Colorado had scored all four of the Quakes’ goals in his six appearances.
Kinnear faces a quandary as the Quakes chase a playoff spot. They are eighth, six points behind but with two games in hand on sixth-place Seattle, which they host at Avaya Sept. 12 in what is shaping up to be a crucial match.
Designated Player Innocent Emeghara, knocked out of the lineup by a torn meniscus suffered in a May 1 game against Real Salt Lake, is nearly ready to return, and Kinnear must decide what to do with Amarikwa and Chris Wondolowski, who is goalless in four games since returning from Gold Cup duty.
Kinnear has used Wondo as a midfielder in a 4-1-4-1 formation and against SKC will need to juggle him and Amarikwa, and also decide what to do with Godoy and Alashe. But with four goals and one assist since returning to the Quakes, Amarikwa can’t be excluded, especially since he’s committed himself to the hard work on the other side of the ball.