Good evening, folks! This week's installment comes in a bit late, but better late than never. Robert Jonas joins us this week from Quake Rattle and Goal, the San Jose Earthquakes' blog. Let's see what he has to say about FC Dallas' opponent this Memorial Day weekend:
1. Marvin Chavez was a favorite at FC Dallas, and we were disappointed to see him transferred. What kind of impact has he made on the field and off, since joining the Earthquakes?
If only judged on what he has done on the field, Marvin Chavez has been the biggest acquisition by the Earthquakes over the next couple of seasons. His speed on the wings and ability to take on defenders makes him a replacement for a traditional central attacking midfielder. And given that San Jose head coach Frank Yallop prefers to build attacks on the outside through wingers and fullbacks, Chavez fits the bill perfectly. In his first season with the Quakes, Chavez recorded 13 assists and 3 goals, helping San Jose to its best offensive season in franchise history. And not all of those assists came from the run of play, as Chavez has been the go-to dead ball specialist for the Earthquakes. The Honduran midfielder has been called the X-factor for San Jose, and Yallop has even gone as far as calling him the team's most important player. In the five appearances he has made so far in 2013, the Quakes have an unblemished record.
In addition to his on-the-field exploits, Chavez is an important part of the Quakes off of it. Alongside fellow Hondurans Victor Bernardez and Walter Martinez, Chavez provides levity in the locker room and on the training pitch. Steven Beitashour said recently how much it cracks him up to watch the Hondruans' antics, adding that Chavez might be the funniest man in MLS. With the need to gain any edge possible a necessity in MLS, having Chavez contribute so much to team chemistry is a huge boost for the Earthquakes.
2. After winning the Supporter's Shield last season, I was expecting San Jose to maintain some of that form this year. What has been the kink in the system causing the Earthquakes to be one third of the way into 2013 with only three wins?
Already 13 games into the season, of which 8 were at home and the team collected a mere 3 wins, the Quakes themselves lay most of the blame on the myriad injuries that sidelined the better half of the first choice Starting XI that carried them to the Shield in 2012. No Steven Lenhart or Alan Gordon up top for extended periods of the early season. No Chavez, until recently, and no Simon Dawkins (back in England) manning the wings. Even the defensive back-four has seen a plethora of starting sets this year, lacking matches together that might increase their effectiveness at staying organized (too many early goals conceded this season).
However, the time for excuses has passed, as Yallop has nearly his entire roster at his disposal to set his line-up. In fact, with so many healthy bodies back in the mix, competition for starting spots is expected to fuel a mid-season renaissance in terms of intensity in training and on weekends. The players have said all the right things to this stage, and feel that trailing Western Conference leaders FC Dallas by only 9 points means they are a hot-streak of form from climbing back into title contention. Past results do not guarantee future performance, but the Earthquakes remain confident that they have the talent to be an MLS Cup contender.
3. Chris Wondolowski is still in the top echelon of goal scorers looking at 2013 statistics. Was 2012 a fluke or his peak, or do you think Wondo can challenge for the record again or come close to it?
Wondolowski is getting shots on target at comparable rates to years past, and he sits fifth on the league's scoring list with 5 goals, so the reigning MLS MVP is not panicking. However, he has missed a number of scoring opportunities that in previous seasons h would have buried. Wondo has expanded his game to include more linkage play and scoring opportunity creation for his teammates, but he still needs to lead the team forward. He is only 30 years old, and he no doubt will continue to score goals, but to get his scoring rate back to previous seasons' levels, he'll need to minimize his gaffes. Having healthy striking partners Gordon and Lenhart back on a consistent basis will also be a big help, but it starts with Wondo making his mark.
Bonus: Who is a player that we may not have heard of that could make an unexpected impact against Dallas?
A revelation for the Earthquakes this season, and their highest ranked player on the MLS Castrol Index, is rookie forward Adam Jahn. The tall man with the pillow feet has already notched 4 goals this season and has wrested away playing time from some of the more established Earthquakes. Yallop has been very impressed with the rookie out of nearby Stanford University, and has even seen fit to play him in midfield just to get him into the game. Whether or not he earns a start against FC Dallas, Jahn will see the field Saturday night.
Thanks go to Robert for taking the time to talk about the match-up.
What do you all think about this weekend's game? Slam dunk win? Happy with a point? Struggle at home?
The injuries this season have impacted our team minimally thus far (knock on wood). However, will FC Dallas be able to remain on top of the hill in the #1 spot if George John, Andrew Jacobson, and David Ferreira don't find the pitch soon? I think we have a lot to be thankful for this season as the front office has delivered the missing pieces we so sorely needed the past couple of years. It is exciting to see the team chemistry ooze through every crack and window we get into the senior squad. You can tell these guys are having fun.
Leave some comments. Have a great weekend.