Saturday, August 21, 2010

Shrader's Spin: Shuffling Lineup

My, Oh my, Oh my, Oh my.

Within hours of getting major a reinforcement up front the Quakes lose one of their two top-notch goalkeepers. Joe Cannon’s broken ankle came a day after the club signed European veteran Geovanni and three days after Cannon got his sixth shutout of the year, a 1-0 win over Kansas City.

‘Tis the way of life for the 2010 Earthquakes.

Jon Busch is back in goal this week, and until further notice. And one of these days Geovanni will be in the lineup – likely this week – quite possibly as a second forward. “He’s a bit like (Guillermo Barros) Schelotto,” says coach Frank Yallop, referring to the Columbus forward. “He’s a bit of a floater. He finds the ball in pockets and slides the ball to other players.”

“It shows that ownership is dedicated to the playoffs and winning a championship,” says Chris Wondolowski, who scored the goal against KC. “We appreciate it, because that’s what’s on the players minds, too.”

Geovanni is 30 years of age. He has spent most of his professional career playing in Europe, the last two seasons at Hull City in the EPL, before they were relegated. FC Barcelona is among the teams for which he has played.

“We’ve never had a player of his quality,” Yallop says. He talks about Huckerby, Lima and Andre Luiz in the same conversation, but by most accounts Geovanni is a cut above. The league’s 14th Designated Player should make a big impact on a team that is currently tied for 8th in the eight-team playoff chase in Major League Soccer.

For now the attack will have Bobby Convey only part time. He’ll have to make his timely offensive runs from the left back spot, filling in for the injured Ramiro Corrales.

“It’s difficult to get moved in the middle of the season,” Convey said. “But that’s what our team needed right now.” He says he can’t be as creative from the back because of his defensive responsibilities, which is too bad, “because this is probably the best season I’ve had in MLS.”

Convey remains the first choice on corner kicks, and other set pieces, which have been an important part of the Quakes attack this season. They’ve scored six times on corner kicks.

Yallop has been thrilled with Convey all season, in every way. “I told Bobby now to be the best attacking left back in the league,” he said. “Bobby has been good and professional at everything.”

“I had to (make the move), it’s something I was asked to do,” Convey says. “That’s what Frank wanted, so that’s what I’ve done.”

While the lineup continues to be shuffled, mostly because of injuries, Yallop says there is no doubting the commitment by ownership and General Manager John Doyle. Geovanni’s presence means this team is serious about the chase for its first playoff spot since a return to the league in 2008.

“To have a real, top notch European player at 30 years old coming in is a treat for our guys and it’ll be a treat for our fans,” Yallop says.

The goalies have been interchanged for different reasons, the midfield has been a work in progress, the backline reshuffled semi-regularly, the forwards have been inconsistent scorers, and yet, the team is above five-hundred, and chasing the post-season.

What might it be like if everybody were available all the time? Oh my, that would be a treat for the players and the fans - and the broadcasters would be pretty pleased, too.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Shrader's Spin: KC a Must Win?

It’s not often you hear coaches and players talk in August about a “must win” game.

That’s about all the Quakes are talking about this week.

“Yes, at this point in the season, every point matters,” said defender Jason Hernandez. “When we’re at home we can’t afford to lose any more points.”

The Quakes had three home shutouts early in the season, but have no wins at Buck Shaw since May 8.

“I just want three points on Saturday,” said coach Frank Yallop. “We have to win on Saturday.”

The Wizards bring a relatively hot team to town this weekend, unbeaten in four straight. However, in the meantime, the Quakes have more injuries to deal with; Ramiro Corrales the latest of them, a knee injury that could keep him out a least a month.

“It’s easy to have a pity party about who is not here,” Hernandez said. “But that’s not our job. Our job is to get results. And we’re looking for that on Saturday.”

After a 1-0 home loss to Seattle two weeks ago, Yallop said he thought the team was playing scared at home, a comment he again uttered this week.

“Well, I am never going to disagree with the coach,” Hernandez says. “Whatever he says, I agree with. It’s the point now for us to express ourselves.”

Yallop says the Quakes need to attack more, be more aggressive, take the game to the opponent, “maybe with a little more attacking lineup, we’ll see.”

Newly acquired Khari Stephenson will almost certainly be in the lineup. He spent the last five years playing in Scandinavia, first in Sweden and then Norway, but says they wanted more of a “runner." Stephenson says he's more of a “technical” player.

“I asked my agent to find me a place to play in MLS,” he says. And, Stephenson says, this should be a good fit for him. “I can make the pass, can hold the ball, and shoot with both feet.”

Stephenson, who has 31 caps for Jamaica, was drafted out of Williams College in 2004 and spent a short time in MLS with Chicago and Kansas City.

“He’s very composed on the ball,” Hernandez says. “He’ll be a strong presence in the middle. He reminds me a bit of (New England’s) Shalrie Joseph.” Stephenson is a 6-foot-1 midfielder who doesn’t mind playing physically. Hernandez says, “we’re looking forward to what he can do.”

Whoever is in the lineup, Yallop says, they will work hard and get the job done. It doesn’t matter for how long they’ve played together, if at all: “I have no doubts whoever we pick will be organized and dynamic.”

And the players and coaches agree it’s a group that must provide a win.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Shrader's Spin: Remembring Ronald Cerritos

This quiet kid with the infectious smile from El Salvador showed up with more ambition than pedigree. Almost unheard of outside San Salvador, Ronald Cerritos came to the Clash in 1997 on loan from a small club, ADET.

No wonder long-time Spanish-language voice of the Quakes Carlos Cesar Rivera, who like Cerritos came here from El Salvador, was surprised the kid was an MLS All-Star in his first year.

“He didn’t have a name in El Salvadoran football,” Rivera said. “He was really unknown.”


Not for long. Cerritos scored 12 goals in 22 MLS games in his rookie year, including a goal in his debut against Los Angeles. It was a header from an Eddie Lewis cross.

“He was a little guy, but scored a lot in the box and a lot of header goals,” Rivera said.

He scored a lot of goals, period. Sixty-one of them in 148 games, and throw in 47 assists. He once had a goal or an assist in a league-record 11 straight games.

Not bad for a kid who wasn’t really a striker.

“He was brought in to play on the right side of the midfield,” said Earthquakes General Manager John Doyle, a former teammate of Cerritos.

“He made deceptive runs – he was not the fastest player, but he was quick and he
was deceptive,” Doyle said. “And he found ways to get the ball into the back of the net.”

In his first go-around in San Jose, five seasons, from 1997 to 2001, Cerritos led the team in goal scoring for every year he was fully healthy, including 15 goals in 1999.

He came to San Jose at a time when the club was not winning much, Doyle says, “so it was nice to see him help us win the title in 2001.”

Cerritos wasn’t always too sure of himself in his early days. He was shy. He wasn’t confident speaking in English; he didn’t have the resume of either of his celebrated countrymen in the league, Mauricio Cienfuegos or Raul Diaz Arce. Though there is a large Salvadoran community in the Bay Area – estimated at 200,000 – Cerritos wasn’t comfortable selling himself or the game in public, even to his compatriots.

And that may be a reason why he flew under the radar during a lot of his years in Major League Soccer. But wherever he was flying and whatever radar he was on, Ronald Cerritos scored goals.

“He had good instincts,” Doyle said. “He was good physically. His impact on this team was big.”

Cerritos returned for the 2005 season, but there were so many options on a team that would end the season with the best record in the league. Despite a smaller role, he still had six goals and nine assists.

“If you had a Clash-Quakes Dream Team,” says Rivera. “Ronald would certainly be on it, with Landon (Donovan), Doyle, Bravo and others.” Rivera says he thinks Cerritos is the best Latin American player the team has ever had.

Doyle is happy the club is recognizing Cerritos. And what’s more, Doyle has a little extra reason to like the club’s all-time leading scorer. When Doyle was the assistant for Dominic Kinnear in 2005, the head coach was sick one night in New York, and couldn’t make the game. “Ronald scored the goal in a 1-0 win,” he said. “I’m undefeated as a head coach thanks s to Ronald.”

That would bring a smile to the kid’s face.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Share Your 2010 FIFA World Cup Memory

Landon Donovan’s goal against Algeria in the 2010 FIFA World Cup was one of the greatest moments in U.S. Soccer history (VIDEO) and sparked dramatic reactions from fans across the United States that were captured via video in bars and living rooms across the country.

More than 2.8 million people have watched “The World’s Reaction to Landon Donovan’s Game Winning Goal,” video on YouTube which compiled those reactions from fans. Watching the video from South Africa, the team was blown away by the reaction and response of the fans.

Now, the U.S. players want to know exactly what that moment meant to you.

How did you react? Where were you? The U.S. players want to know.