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.

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