By the time I get this article posted, the Earthquakes will have one foot on the plane to Los Angeles this afternoon. With the Galaxy game being featured on Thursday night (on the ESPN family of networks), the team had an abbreviated training schedule in preparation. I was able to get out to the Nutrilite Training Facility both Tuesday and today, and am happy to share my thoughts and observations.
The team looked focused in shooting drills and in 11 v. 11 scrimmages this week. The same starting XI that surprised Philadelphia back on July 10th will take the HDC pitch tomorrow against the Galaxy. The only questionable player in the mix had been Cornell Glen, who hobbled off the field during Tuesday's scrimmage, but was back at it again today showing no lingering effects.
On the injury front, Edurado will be out for at least the next 4-6 weeks. His thigh injury suffered last Friday in training is still being evaluated by the Quakes medical staff as to the expected recovery time. He was expected to play in the match against Tottenham, but will now not be seen on the field until the end of August at the best. After missing virtually the entire first half of the MLS season, Eduardo was being touted as being equivalent to a "summer signing", ala Darren Huckerby in 2008.
With the news of Eduardo being out indefinitely, as well as the season ending surgery for Andre Luiz, general manager John Doyle stated after training today that the Quakes have accelerated their efforts to find an impact player in the summer transfer window (running until mid-August.) Already scheduled ahead of the Eduardo injury, and currently training with the club is ex-Kansas City Wizard and Jamaican National Teamer Khari Stephenson. The central midfielder has been plying his trade most recently in Norway. Other potential trailists have not yet been introduced or identified.
Back to the injury news, Chris Leitch is still out after experiencing a slight muscle tear early in the first half against Tottenham. For those, like myself, who were alarmed to see Spurs players rampaging down the right side, Leitch was not going at 100% during much of the opening 45 minutes. Leitch won't make the trip to Los Angeles.
Turing our attention back to the Quakes that will be heading to LA, beyond the starting XI, the competition looks identical to that before the Philadelphia game. For the current squad, the players fighting for first-off-the-bench continue to be Ryan Johnson, Arturo Alvarez, and Brad Ring. Of course, the game situation will determine these substitutions be look for there three to again be ready to take the HDC field. Omar Jasseh, who looked electric at times during the Tottenham match -- but does need to curtail the diving histrionics -- should also be available along with Steven Beitashour and Scott Sealy.
On the topic of the ML All-Star game, and the apparent snubs to the Earthquakes best achievers, the conversation was firmly in the rear view mirror for most by the end of training today. The task at hand is the Galaxy and then the second half of the MLS regular season. Unlike in 2008 and 2009, this year the Quakes will be looking to solidify their playoff standing -- not desperately trying to qualify. That difference is obvious in the demeanor of the players and coaches on the field and in media interviews. The sideline discussions among the media representatives touch on that with regularity.
One last note, this more toward the news-of-the-day involving young American players signing into MLS, before I sign off. Wednesday brought news that Chivas USA had won a weighted lottery for the rights to former U.S. U-20 midfielder Sal Zizzo. Doyle expressed his admiration for the 23-year old, but warned that he was still coming off a serious injury and would be unlikely to make an impact in 2010. Doyle did state that Zizzo would be a great addition to the Quakes; however, he should it in nicely with Chivas. I think it unlikely that the Quakes could acquire him via trade at this point.
Enjoy the game tomorrow everyone. And as always, please leave your questions in the comments section below. I check in regularly, and use them in guiding my conversations with the Quakes players and coaches.