Thursday, May 20, 2010

Shrader's Spin: Defense Gelling


Three shutouts in-a-row. Three games plus three minutes without allowing a goal.

Pretty impressive stuff for a team that had only three shutouts during the ENTIRE 2009 season. Goalkeeper Joe Cannon now has 72 career shutouts; only Kevin Hartman has more in the history of Major League Soccer.

“It’s not just the defenders,” Cannon said. “It’s everybody in front of me.”

“We’re just trying not to let the guys play the ball out of the back very easily,” said forward Ryan Johnson. “And we try to take away the defensive midfielder.”

Johnson said he and the other forwards - right now he’s partnered with Chris Wondolowski - try to be disruptive on the field. “We try to do the work defensively,” Johnson says. “We’re team players and we want to help each other out.”

Bobby Burling has started in each of the three shutouts, and he agrees you stop the other team with an 11-man defensive effort.

“Our defensive shape starts with the forwards,” he said. “As long as everybody is talking and cutting off angles and making plays hard for (the other team), it makes it a lot easier on the back four.”

This week, it’s a trip to Seattle where Sounders FC comes off a 1-0 win at New York. One week prior, Seattle lost at home to the Galaxy, 4-0.

“Three shutouts in-a-row aren’t going to help us in the Lion’s Den,” Cannon said. “You know Seattle will be hungry to come at us.”

The Quakes made two trips to Seattle last year, going oh-for-the-Great-Northwest. But Cannon says this team is different, this bunch is more mature. “We have a group that can handle themselves,” he says.

MLS teams are finding the Quakes a difficult team to break down, even on the road. Take away a half at Chivas USA and they have been tough to beat on the road and have outscored their home opponents 7-0 since losing 3-0 on opening night.

“From top to bottom it’s been a great team effort,” said defender Jason Hernandez. “And it’s showing in these clean sheets.”

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