Four games into the MLS league campaign, the San Jose Earthquakes (0-2-2) are sitting in last in the Western Conference standings with just two points.
The club has the chance to pick up its first win of the season on Saturday at 3pm when the Quakes visit the Colorado Rapids. Colorado (3-1-1) meanwhile occupies the second spot in the standings, but has played one game more than San Jose.
In the first installment of the “Extra Time” blog you’ll find some of the thoughts of head coach Mark Watson, striker Chris Wondolowski and club president Dave Kaval in the wake of the 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew on Sunday, April 13 at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara.
In his post game press conference, Watson spoke about the strong impression that JJ Koval has already made in his brief career with San Jose. The club selected the former Stanford midfielder with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.
Note: Questions paraphrased, responses directly transcribed.
Is “calmness” Koval’s greatest strength?
“It’s one of them. He shows the maturity of a guy who’s been in the league for 10 years. He’s a good athlete, he has a good understanding of the game tactically.”
Could the versatile 21-year-old play in defense against Colorado with regular right-back Brandon Barklage’s status “questionable” as he recovers from a thigh contusion? (Koval filled in at that spot against the Crew in the second half.)
“It’s a possibility…I think he’s played right-back twice in his life and both times it’s been with us without preparation, kind of last minute stuff. He’s always adapted very well.”
What’s one thing you’d like to see improve with the squad heading forward?
“More points. I think we’re going to work on everything. We’ve conceded goals too easily and haven’t scored enough goals …We’ll look at all aspects of our play.”
The US national team is set to begin its World Cup training camp in mid-May, but for now, Wondolowski’s focus remains fully in San Jose. With the Quakes mired in an early-season slump, it’s easy enough for the striker to push his World Cup aspirations to the back of his mind.
“Just trying to get wins with Earthquakes…That’s my only mindset right now, and if I’m able to do that then the rest will follow.”
In the first four games, Wondolowski has already found the back of the net on three occasions. Still, the 31-year-old doesn’t think he’s done enough just yet to secure on spot on the plane to Brazil.
“Nah, I mean that’s the great thing about soccer is that you always have to get better, and you can’t be content with the way you’re playing. That’s when you fall by the wayside.”
In a statement released by the club, Kaval explained that he’s hopeful that it won’t just be Wondolowski representing the team at the World Cup. The team president would also like to see defenders Clarence Goodson (US) and Victor Bernardez (Honduras) get the call, as well.
“There’s a great level of excitement surrounding the World Cup and we hope to have three representatives from the San Jose Earthquakes.”
Having three members of the squad represent the Quakes at soccer’s biggest tournament would be an impressive achievement for the club. Of course, it would also mean that San Jose would have to go without three of its top contributors for as much as a month of the season.
Greg Lalas, the Editor in Chief of MLSsoccer.com, also made a pitch for Wondolowoski, as you can watch in the video below.
— Karl Buscheck (@KarlBuscheck) April 19, 2014
I guess Steven Lenhart’s recovery from a sprained left MCL is going well.
Check out the story, and watch the video of the Bash Brothers, Lenhart and Alan Gordon, playing power wheelchair soccer with the San Jose Steamrollers, via the Quakes’ official team site. At one point in the video, Lenhart jokes that the collisions are “kinda scary.” On a related note, the sidelined forward, who is expected to be on the shelf for a couple more weeks, was walking around without any noticeable limp following the game with the Crew.
Note: The Quakes game against the Rapids on Saturday will be broadcast on CSN Bay Area, and can be heard on 1590 KLIV.