During a rare international break that MLS respects, the San Jose Earthquakes have had a fairly quiet last week short of bodies due to international call-ups, loans, and injuries, but the traditional training and work ground on for those who remained.
While reporters are not permitted to watch tactical work, I watched a short-sided scrimmage with a mix of regulars on both teams. Amidst fairly routine action, Innocent latched onto a Matheus Silva through-ball and a sliding Bryan Meredith took out his legs for a penalty, which Tommy Thompson converted. The Swiss international was visibly displeased about the challenge, but it should reassure San Jose fans that he is capable of taking hard contact in this phase of his recovery.
Closing the practice was the traditional finishing drill from crosses, with the service provided by Kip Colvey and Andrés Imperiale on the left and none other than coach Dominic Kinnear on the right. The standout on the drill was not any of the offensive players but rather Andrew Tarbell, who made a series of cat-like reaction saves and elicited whoops and "attaboys" with each one.
After the work was over, I caught up with Kinnear about some of the news over the last week. Asked if the first half of the LA Galaxy game had gone to plan, Kinnear responded "Not entirely. I thought the first 10-15 minutes were working out good...[then] we couldn't get out of our own half."
"Looking at 2 minutes left on the clock [in the first half], I thought ok, not beautiful, but 0-0 on the road against LA is good. But with Simon's red card, the team talk went a little bit differently than I was planning on."
Thompson and Adam Jahn, who started for the Sacramento Republic on loan over the weekend, were immediately back into Quakes training. Kinnear was noncommittal about how frequently they would be on loan, saying, "We'll see. Any time we can get them meaningful minutes without them being pulled away from us is a positive."
As far as the international matches occurring on the break, the coach has taken time off and not tuned in just yet. Tonight, however, that will change: "I'll be glued to my couch tonight watching games, flicking back and forth." As for which game in particular? "Go USA."
He admits his main priority for the international matches is getting his players back healthy, but with Fatai Alashe in particular, it provided another chance to improve match sharpness after a missing pre-season: "When he came back, we needed him to play, because it makes us a little bit more balanced...any days on the field, it's better for him"
- Dom confirmed Earthquakes academy product Josh Morton was involved in first team training last Friday since they were short numbers, Morton was on spring break, and the Quakes prioritize their own academy products when short numbers.
- Sanna Nyassi was not at training and Kinnear confirmed he would not be returning to the team, although not specifying precisely what the next move for the player would be.
- Shaun Francis has made a full return from injury and will be available at the weekend. Chad Barrett made his return to the training pitch, but is still a little while away from game-ready.
- Clarence Goodson and Cordell Cato remain out from their injuries, as do the long-term absentees Marc Pelosi and Jordan Stewart.