After an improved performance on the weekend, one which head coach Frank Yallop called entertaining for the fans, the San Jose Earthquakes returned to the training field with an eye forward to the visit of the MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids. The starting XI that faced the Portland Timbers made it through the 1-1 draw without incident and practiced together as a unit against a squad of eleven made up of the reserves and a couple trialists.
Missing from training was forward Alan Gordon, who revealed after the Timbers match that he was suffering from injuries far more serious than had been diagnosed heading into the weekend. In addition to carrying a quadriceps strain and abdominal discomfort, the Earthquakes goal scorer claimed he also had a double hernia injury that was causing him pain. On Tuesday, he underwent surgery down in Southern California where the extent of the forward’s issues were discovered — doctors corrected a torn rectus abdominis and tears in both his right and left hip adductors. Gordon is expected to spend two weeks at home recovering, before returning to San Jose to begin rehabilitation exercises.
“I thought he played well in his first game,” said coach Yallop on how Gordon has fared with the Quakes, “but he was hindered by that abdominal injury that he had. He played with pain not knowing how bad it was, and then we get him and find out it was bad. Hopefully he’ll at least be back towards the end of the season, and we have him for next year too.”
Gordon played a full match with Toronto FC just prior to his trade to the Earthquakes, so team trainers had only that information to go on to evaluate his status. Because players in MLS are under contract with the league and not the individual teams, trades are made without the benefit of medical evaluations.
“I don’t think Toronto were trying to do anything wrong,” said Yallop. “They cleared Alan to play so he is ready to go. It would help to clear everything up. In hindsight would we have done a trade for someone who was going to have surgery in a week or so? Probably not.”
With Gordon out for much of the next two months, and forward Steven Lenhart still absent on family leave, Yallop is left with Scott Sealy to partner with Chris Wondolowski at forward this weekend and for the foreseeable future.
“I thought Scott played well for us at the end of last year, though in a different role,” Yallop shared. “He’s looking more confident. I thought he played well on the weekend, and he’s been training well. I expect him to start playing like I know he can play. He’s fought through a lot of injuries, a lot of up and downs this season and last, but the quality is there with Sealy, so I’m hoping he breaks out of it and has a good game on the weekend, which is has the ability to do for sure.”
His forward partner Wondolowski agreed, and was confident that Sealy could step in for Gordon again this weekend.
“Scott is another great one that can go out there and battle as a target forward, so I think we’ll be fine,” said Wondolowski. “It’s been about a year and a half together and we’ve learned a lot from each other. I’ve learned a lot from him, he is a great player and it’s been really nice to play with him up top.”
While both Lenhart and Gordon may be out for many more weeks, striker Simon Dawkins is nearing a return to action, and was participating in light training ahead of Tuesday’s intrasquad scrimmage. Dawkins didn’t require the customary ice bag that he has received the last couple weeks following training, and he gave the thumbs up to reporters as he left the facility.
“A little bit of our creative thrust went with Simon,” suggested Yallop. “He’s a very good player and that has been missed. Then you lose a little bit of confidence and I think other teams sense that we’re not as goal dangerous as we were so they can take more risks and get rewards. Simon should be back, and will have a role to play this weekend.”
With the MLS summer transfer window for players under contract open for just a few more days — domestic players and players out of contact can be added to MLS rosters until the middle of September — the Earthquakes have yet to tip their hand as to whether any new signings will be added to the roster by the Sunday deadline. General manager John Doyle has returned from Brazil and took in Tuesday’s training session along with owner/operator Lew Wolff. The pair joined Earthquakes coaches for an impromptu meeting at the center of the NTF pitch, but neither was available for comment.
“You can’t flip a switch and make the team more talented,” said Yallop about the current state of the roster. “We’ve dropped points when we shouldn’t have, but the table does not lie. We are going to be a mid-table team unless we spend more money on extra players, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. We’re pretty strong as group, but it would be nice to maybe one or two to it.”
One player currently being evaluated by the team is Italian striker Andrea Pisanu, who joined the team last weekend and played in the Earthquakes Reserve League 2-0 loss to the Portland Timbers reserves. The 29-year old had a successful stint with Parma in the Italian Serie A prior to 2008 and is currently under contract with Bologna. He revealed after training that his trial with San Jose will last through the end of this week.
“I’m very happy to trial, it’s been very, very good,” shared Pisanu of his time training with the Earthquakes. “It is a good team. I can play in the middle for midfield and striker, behind the forward.”
In the intrasquad scrimmage on Tuesday, the Italian paired with Ellis McLoughlin on the second team and produced a couple very nice goals. However, his performance was not overly impressive, and he is likely to join the list of forward trialists that have failed to impress the team’s brass. Coach Yallop would not comment on the progress made by Pisanu in his trial, but given that the striker is already under contract and a transfer would need to be completed by this Sunday, he did not hold out much hope that the Italian would stick with the Quakes.