If there’s any player in MLS who is familiar with a punishing schedule, it’s San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Judson.
The Brazilian joined the Earthquakes in 2019, but before that he played for Avaí, which toggled between the top two national divisions in his native country.
In 2018, Judson played an astonishing 4,344 minutes across all competitions for his club. In contrast, if he plays the remaining four games and the Quakes reach the playoffs this year, he may hit that mark combined across all competitions in two full seasons with San Jose.
A midfielder known for doing the “dirty work” for his team, Judson is known for running end to end for 90 minutes every game and admitted he keeps an eye on the distances he covers.
“Of course I’m always curious and look at my stats after each game,” Judson told reporters through an interpreter Thursday on a conference call. “I’m aware I do run a lot and I’m aware of that during the game, but other players do as well, whether that’s Jackson [Yueill], [Chris Wondolowski], they run a lot as well. In respect to this season, the players definitely feel a little more fatigued after each game because of the short turnarounds between matches. And when I played in Brazil in 2018, I went through the same deal, where in Brazil there were a lot of short turnarounds between matches. So that has helped me adapt a lot better this year.”
Two seasons in, the 27-year-old isn’t garnering national attention for his play, but San Jose know the important work he puts in every game. After coming off a standout performance last weekend against the Seattle Sounders, a 0-0 draw, Judson said he doesn’t much care about individual honors.
“No, for me that’s not a problem,” he said. “For me, what really matters is my contributions to the team as a whole. Whether they talk about me or not, I don’t really look into that. My main goal is the overall contributions to the team, which is what I really care about.”
The consistency he’s displayed has helped the Earthquakes turn around a season that looked like it was gone in the summer. The comfort he feels is evident.
“I think I’ve been doing really well, I feel well, here in my second year in MLS,” he said. “I feel well-adapted, I’m well aware and think I have the conviction for us as a team to continue to improve our level of play as we approach the playoffs.”
The Earthquakes are above the playoff line in the Western Conference, but the job isn’t done yet, with the standings very tight and plenty of uncertainty heading into the final weeks. Judson said he’s confident they’ll get the job done.
“We have four more games and we are conscious about what we need to do and about our main objective, which is clinch a spot in the playoffs. Because of that we are working really hard and we’re focused on that goal, so we can approach the playoffs as strongly as possible,” he said.
MLS has had a long line of distinguished defensive midfielders who spend a long time at one club, such as Osvaldo Alonso with the Seattle Sounders and Kyle Beckerman at Real Salt Lake, among others. Judson said he wants to stay with the Earthquakes long term and really make his mark.
“I’m very happy to be here, to be with this club,” he said. “I’m very happy with the coaches we had last year and with the coaches we have this year. For me, I would love to stay here for a really long time. In order for that to happen, I need to be able to contribute and do my best.”
So what fuels Judson’s seemingly boundless energy? It’s a combination of factors, really.
“I just do the best that I can, with all the energy that I have. I’m very blessed, I’m very thankful to be here with this club, to be here in San Jose, to have this coaching staff and to have this team. I believe in this team and I’m also thankful, I get this motivation from my family, my wife, my daughters and my family back in Brazil. Being motivated by my family is one of the things that pushes me every game and every day I’m here. I think about them, I’m thankful for them, I’m thankful to God and just looking forward to giving this team as much as possible.”
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