Tuesday’s training session at the Nutrilite Training Facility had a little bit for everyone in attendance. For those that like to watch full field scrimmages, the Earthquakes obliged with a spirited affair featuring many of the usual suspects. If you are more into watching sweet shots on goal, the end of session finishing drills were a spectacle of great shots and some amazing saves. And to the few that have already closed the door on the 2011 season, the wonderful late-summer like weather was suitable for soaking up a few rays and basking in another gorgeous Northern California day.
Taking turns on the two squads that contested the intra-team scrimmage Tuesday morning were the regular phalanx of Earthquakes strikers. Setting the tone early was Golden Boot hopeful Chris Wondolowski and his partner Khari Stephenson, while the always active Matt Luzunaris and long time guest player Kamani Hill played foils to the starters. More often than not, it was the defenses that looked sharp during the scrimmage, but the scoring opportunities did materialize for both sides. Helping lead opposing teams were a couple of newly healthy midfielders, Ramiro Corrales and Bobby Convey. The latter player especially looked no worse for his recent injuries, though no word was given as to whether Convey would be fit enough to see the field this Saturday against visiting FC Dallas. Corrales looked back to his normal self, and has a strong chance to get back into the starting XI for the Earthquakes last regular season game.
Ike Opara and Alan Gordon were not a part of the full field scrimmage, which essentially signals the end of their playing time with the Earthquakes this season. Opara is definitely targeting the offseason as a time to strengthen his body ahead of the next campaign while Gordon has repeatedly expressed an interest in resigning with the team and awaits contract negotiations to secure his services.
Anthony Ampaipitakwong also sat out the scrimmage, and it appears his lingering groin injury will prevent any thoughts of him making a comeback before the season finale. Ampaipitakwong joins Opara and Gordon in the category of players that will look to rebound from disappointing 2012 seasons with much better efforts in 2013.
Lastly, in an abbreviated conversation with head coach Frank Yallop after training, in which most of the conversation was dominated with the final thoughts on the 2-1 loss in Seattle, the signal that the Earthquakes will continue to use their same core players in the weekend match against FC Dallas was abundantly clear. With an overflow crowd expected at Buck Shaw Stadium Saturday evening, coach Yallop made it clear that he wants to put on a good show and see out the season with a win.