SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The bright sunshine of a splendid spring day greeted the San Jose Earthquakes at training on Friday, one day before their MLS contest against FC Dallas. And despite the absence of some key players -- Chris Wondolowski, Simon Dawkins, Anibal Godoy, and Alberto Quintero are away for international duty and the Copa America Centenario -- the squad was in good spirits ahead of a match against last season's top finisher in the Western Conference.
Head coach Dominic Kinnear and his staff put the team through its paces, working on set pieces as well as run-of-play tactics with the Quakes makeshift starting line-up. Losing such key players to the Copa America tournament might have been seen as a big step backwards for the sixth-place in the West Quakes. Instead, Saturday's match against FC Dallas at Avaya Stadium will present opportunities for others to show what they have, ameliorating Kinnear's concerns.
"Not at all," said Kinnear following Friday's training session. "You have to have confidence in your whole squad, and we do."
One potential key to that energy is the likely start of forward Quincy Amarikwa, who had to leave the field on April 24 against Sporting Kansas City with a hamstring injury. Progress has been as expected for the Earthquakes assists leader, and Kinnear is pleased to have him back just as reinforcements are needed.
"He's been taking care of himself since he was injured," said Kinnear. "He's wanted to play earlier, but he's going to get time on Saturday."
With both Wondolowski and Dawkins -- the starting forward duo for San Jose at the LA Galaxy last Sunday -- not available, Chad Barrett provides another tested option up top for Kinnear's side. The Quakes highest paid player, Innocent, is listed as questionable for Saturday.
Much of this week's training has been about getting guys on the field together that are likely to need that chemistry when it comes to the challenge FC Dallas presents. Currently with the second-best record in all of MLS -- behind only the surprising Colorado Rapids -- Dallas has fewer Copa America induced issues heading into the weekend, and San Jose's unblemished 2016 home record at Avaya Stadium could be in jeopardy.
But Kinnear has not prepared his team to sit back and play at the pace dictated by FC Dallas. Instead, throughout Friday's session, he had the Quakes pressing high up the field, passing in quick transition, and generally not playing methodically out of the back. Fullbacks Shaun Francis and Kofi Sarkodie will continue to play up the field whenever possible, and Fatai Alashe will anchor the defensive midfielder position in front of the center backs.
"we are going to step on the field with an aggressive approach," said Kinnear, "and hopefully that continues from the opening whistle on."
- Clarence Goodson and Andres Imperiale were participating in practice, but they did not appear to be going at full speed. Both are in their first week back to on-field training, so the timeline for their return remains undetermined.
- Cordell Cato and Tommy Thompson spent time on the midfield line, as did Shea Salinas and Matias Perez Garcia. The decision to who pairs with Alashe in the center of the Earthquakes 4-4-2 will be revealed prior to the match.
- Marc Pelosi, who has been out since the start of preseason, was running and jogging on the side of the practice field, but he did not kick a ball. The expectation is that Pelosi will begin to see touches in June as he targets a summer return to the team.
- The Quakes had some local college players in attendance as they looked to round out the numbers for scrimmages and other drills. One notable player was goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski, who faced the first team for much of the late training tactical drills.