Despite the very busy week for RSL and most MLS teams, I was able to sneak in a round of 3 questions with Robert Jonas of Quake, Rattle and Goal the SB Nation blog that covers all things San Jose. As always I think these exchanges offer a great look inside another team, so let's get started:
1) I expected good things from San Jose this year, but I have to admit the 9-3-3 with29 goals scored has surprised me but the just 18 allowed is what I think has been the difference maker for the Quakes, what is it that has this team playing this well at the start of the season?
A) "The Earthquakes went into the off-season with a one chief goal, sign players with speed.Already solid through the spine, the team was lacking players on the wing that couldstretch opposing defenses and clear up room in the attacking third for forward duo Steven Lenhart and Chris Wondolowski. So, when the opportunity to sign former Earthquakes midfielder Shea Salinas came about, they made it happen. As FC Dallas underwent some roster changes, the Earthquakes pounced on the chance to bring to San Jose speedy Honduran winger Marvin Chavez. And in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, even with someheady defensive prospects still on the board - and the Quakes needed defensive help -they selected electric forward Sam Garza. Three new faces to the team, and three players that have already paid huge dividends in terms of transforming the fortunes of the club."
more questions after the jump:
2) Steven Lenhart, oh how after the events of last year I really want to cheer for him, butquickly this year I remember how annoying the guy is on the pitch with his baiting of opponents, flops, and generally doing more that distracts from his real talent as a striker than compliments it. How do Quakes fans cheer for him?
A)"Every team has that guy, the one the home fans support to the very end but the restlook at with contempt. You pull for the guy through the antics, knowing that your team is better for having him, and you avoid bringing up his name too often for fear of the conversations you'll need to have defending his value. His teammates and coaches openly condone the behavior, for they too realize the team's success may hinge on him doing what he does best, no matter how disagreeable it may seem.
Is Lenhart that player for the Earthquakes? To some his style of play is embarrassing, but to most, Lenny is doing whatever he needs to do for the success of the team. In the San Jose locker room, he has bonded with many of the guys, notably striking partner Wondolowski, and his teammates know that he'll leave it all out on the field in pursuitof securing victory. Sure, he can be a bit of distraction at times, but there is nothing to support the idea that he is divisive to anybody other than opposing teams. And as long as the team keeps winning, and Lenhart keeps sacrificing his body for the sake of the team, supporters will rally behind his cause."
3) So who are the guys at the heart of this San Jose Quakes team? We know about ChrisWondolowski, we know about Lenhart, and Jon Busch, but who don't MLS fans knowabout that they should?
A) "In addition to the player acquisitions the Earthquakes made in the off-season to improve their speed on the wings, the team also made a very important signing on defense. Big Victor Bernardez, a starter for the Honduran national team, has stepped into th eEarthquakes back four and provided rock solid defending. From the moment he stepped on to the practice field at the start of the preseason, it was clear that Bernardez had the skills to be one of the best centerbacks in MLS. His contributions to the team early in the season were a big part of their posting a series of clean sheets. When he was injured in an early April match against the New York Red Bulls and forced out of the line-up for two months, the Earthquakes defensive numbers suffered as a result. Big Vic is back in the starting line-up, and San Jose is looking to return to getting the results in the back to support the great work going on up front."
Bonus Question - who on the Quake's should be a MLS All Star but didn't even make the ballot?
"In an oversight by so many in the national media, Tottenham loanee Simon Dawkinswas not selected as a top-six player in the Earthquakes, and thus did not qualify for the MLS All-Star ballot. Dawkins did not join the team until late in the preseason,and his presumed starting spot in the line-up was held by Salinas, but the talented Englishman was a breakthrough player for San Jose in 2011. His six goals were second best on the team, and he finished 21st in the numerical based Castrol MLS player index(Wondolowski finished in first). When Salinas went down with an injury in early April, Dawkins stepped into the starting XI and displayed the creativity on the ball that no other player on the team can match. The coaching staff knows how valuable he is to the team, and his place on the field is his for the keeping. He made the top-six for the localbased media panel members, but his lack of playing time early in the season - a coach'sdecision - hurt his profile in other markets."
Just a FYI, the national media didn't pick the players on the All Star ballot, as I understand it those choices were made by MLS. I do agree that Simon sure should have been on the ballot.
Thanks again to Robert Jonas for the great insight to the Quakes, you can check out my answers to his questions on quakerattleandgoal.com
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