Tuesday’s Quakes training was a bit unusual, as the majority of the team was in Portland contesting an MLS Reserve League match with the Timbers. And while the Earthquakes reserves dropped that game 2-1, with Chris Leitch scoring the lone goal for San Jose, the first team practiced under the oppressive sun on the first day of summer in the South Bay.
Assistant coaches Mark Watson and Ian Russell traveled with the reserves to PDX, leaving head coach Frank Yallop to work with the dozen players in attendance at the Nutrilite Training Facility. With all but Steven Lenhart of the starting XI from Friday’s loss to Sporting Kansas City staying behind, Yallop had them running a short side scrimmage of one-touch passing and shooting. Simon Dawkins also remained in San Jose raising expectations that he may return to the starting line-up this Saturday against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Returning to San Jose following team Jamaica’s exit in the CONCACAF Gold Cup was forward Ryan Johnson. After an impressive run with the Reggae Boyz, Johnson proclaimed himself a bit tired from all the travel, but ready and available for selection consideration this weekend. Having cemented himself as a starter at the left midfield position before leaving to join the Jamaica national team, Johnson now has to reestablish his standing at that position against current incumbent Ramiro Corrales. Another possibility is that he could join Lenhart as a second forward, or even replace him if Yallop chooses to completely change his line-up this weekend.
During the scrimmage portion of training, Johnson looked very sharp in his movement and shooting, and after practice told reporters that the time with team Jamaica helped grow his confidence. The Earthquakes team MVP in 2009, Johnson has not found the back of the net very often over the past two seasons, though he has helped create a number of goals in that time. Any confidence Johnson has gained through his Gold Cup service will be wise for Yallop to capture in planning his tactics to face the Galaxy.
Dawkins was especially active in the scrimmages, and looks ready to run a full 90 if asked. While somewhat subdued in his post training comments, he did mention the influence that Galaxy opponent David Beckham had on him coming to MLS. In fact, if not for the agreement between the Quakes and Spurs over the potential loan of Dawkins to San Jose, Beckham was lobbying heavily for the 23-year old to join him in Los Angeles this season.
On the injury front, Bobby Convey looked to be at full fitness following the ankle knock he took early in the second half against Sporting KC. Coach Yallop said he was showing no ill effects from the injury, and was ready to go a full week of training ahead of the Galaxy match. Defender Ike Opara was not at training, and the team did not have any updates on his condition. In the last available injury report, Opara was listed as “out” for the weekend, but no timetable for his return to training has been announced.
Midfielder Omar Jasseh also did not travel to Portland on Tuesday. Instead, he stayed behind to do some individual training with Quakes staff as he attempts to return from leg injuries that have been problematic for him all season. The speedy Jasseh loses a lot of effectiveness when his legs are giving him issues, and he still appears to be a few weeks away from being considered for playing time. Most importantly, he will need to overcome a preseason where he did not perform at a level expected of him by the coaching staff before any consideration is made as to his inclusion into the match day 18.