On a bright Sunday morning, a smattering of Seattle fans joined a hearty crowd of San Jose Earthquakes fans spread along the touchline, and spilling over behind the goal line to watch the Reserve League game between the Quakes and Sounders. The reserve league games offer the chance for fans to get up close and personal with some experienced players – on this occasion we watched Sounders midfielder Steve Zakuani, who is rapidly regaining full match fitness after suffering a broken leg more than a year ago.
At the brunch-time kick off, it quickly became apparent that Zakuani’s pace is back – he gave Quakes speedster Sam Garza a run for his money. Zakuani played the full ninety minutes, and was still going at the end of the game when others were flagging; his full practice the following Tuesday show signs that his full return to Seattle’s first eleven is imminent.
Speed also featured early for San Jose: Shea Salinas looked the most dangerous on the field, his ball control down the wings visible (and audible) just inches from our side line view, and his forays into the box provided for a potent attack. Salinas and Garza switched down the flanks in the first half and the Quakes had the majority of possession, with Ramiro Corrales distributing the ball confidently in midfield.
The second half continued in the same vein, and the deadlock was broken in the 57th minute by a fine individual effort by Sam Garza. Within ten minutes the Quakes netted two more goals from Guvenisik and Corrales, with Ballouchy settling in nicely with accurate midfield play. An excellent save by David Bingham late in the game maintained the clean sheet and the game finished 3-0 in favor of the Earthquakes.
Even after the third goal sealed the game in the Earthquakes favor, Shea Salinas continued in the only gear he has, fast forward. Unfortunately a drive down the left was met with an innocuous tackle by a Sounders defender to force out the ball, but which left Salinas hobbling over to the fence to gingerly stretch his leg. The trainers converged on him and he was immediately subbed out of the game, replaced by Jesse Morales, the first of four Earthquakes academy players to put in an appearance on Sunday. The advantageous score line provided the opportunity for appearances by academy players Roberto Mendoza (for Ballouchy), Eli Padilla (for Garza) and Christian Cruz (for Stephenson) – and it was great to see future Quakes players in action and holding their own with the senior squads. After the game, Shea was optimistic about his injury “I think I will be alright – let’s see tomorrow” he said, but unfortunately the strained hamstring has Salinas added to the injured list for Saturday’s game against Montreal.
The final opportunity to see a home Reserve League home game this season is on Tuesday, September 4th, when the Earthquakes take on the LA Galaxy at the training facility on Coleman Avenue – kick off 11AM.