The San Jose Earthquakes were out on the training pitch Thursday feverishly preparing for their road trip to Seattle this weekend. The highlight of the day was a very competitive 11 v. 11 half field scrimmage that saw the first team face off against the second team. With the confined spaces, players on both sides were required to execute tight passing sequences and good ball control. Without the space to make long runs onto the ball, the forwards found their scoring opportunities to be concentrated around the goal mouth.
The first team was missing Joey Gjertsen and Andre Luiz, who sat out to rest injuries they carried over from last week. For Andre Luiz in particular, the tough artificial surface at Gillette Stadium has made his recovery longer than for other weeks. However, both are expected to be ready for the game on Saturday.
Eduardo continues to be out with an oblique strain and the team does not have a timetable for his return.
Arturo Alvarez had some wonderful moments during the scrimmage, and looks to be nearly 100% healthy. While he skipped the trip to New England, Arty hopes to make the substitutes' bench against the Sounders.
Filling in the numbers for the Quakes was guest player Marc Pelosi. A 15-year old defender with the USMNT U-17 program, the talented Pelosi meshed in nicely during the scrimmage. A local product of the De Anza Force soccer club, Pelosi is in residency in Bradenton, Florida preparing for the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup.
The defensive back four, with Brandon McDonald supporting from the midfield, were in fine form again this week and are poised to enter Qwest Field in hopes of earning their fourth straight shut-out. Jason Hernandez especially was looking forward to erasing the memory of two loses in two trips to Seattle last season.
"Things are going well for us right now," shared Hernandez after practice. "If we keep that good defensive mentality we have built so far this season, we should be able to get a good result in Seattle."
Joe Cannon was all business, as has been the case since the disappointing 3-0 loss to RSL in the season opener. He flashed a thumbs-up while leaving the field when shouted encouragement for the upcoming match against the Sounders, but it was clear that the ‘keeper was readying himself for a difficult road trip up north. Given that his GAA has dropped to 1.00 after he finished last season with an average closer to 2, a focused Cannon is just what the team wants to see.
Another game on artificial turf this weekend, and a potential rain storm to boot suggests we'll see a sloppy defensive affair. No problem for these Earthquakes -- defense is where it's at.