Earthquakes face daunting task against L.A. Galaxy

August 19, 2011, 11:01 pm
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Aug. 19, 2011EARTHQUAKES PAGE MLS SCOREBOARD Nicholas Rosano SAN JOSE Its not going to get any easier for the Earthquakes this weekend. Alreadysuffering through a franchise-record 11 game winless streak, the team faces thedaunting task of taking on the league-leading Los Angeles Galaxy on the roadthis Saturday, complete with new star signing Robbie Keane.
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Saturdays game kicks off the final 10 games of the seasonfor San Jose,with seven of those games on the road. With the Earthquakes six points off aplayoff spot and winless since June 11, the circumstances promise a dauntingroad ahead should the team be looking to repeat its 2010 playoff experience.The first task on hand will be to get something out of a trip to the GalaxysHome Depot Center, a venue where the team hasnt won since its 2008 return toSan Jose, against either the Galaxy or the venues other tenants, Chivas USA. Its a tough game. Theyre a top team in the league, themost points, so obviously with its about regrouping and trying to get aresult, Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop said. We can get a result out ofmost games that weve played this year weve been close but obviously notwon enough games.
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Indeed, the Earthquakes have endeavoured to play well intheir last few games, especially during the two most recent home games, buthave come out with little to show, thanks to a combination of bad breaks, smallmistakes and sloppy finishing. Its a tough stretch for us, weve had some injuries, wevehad some unfortunate unlucky falls, unlucky bounces, whatever you want to callit, Earthquakes defender Bobby Burling said. The bottom line is, we need towin. Not making things any easier for the Earthquakes will be thefact that Keane, whose signing was announced earlier in the week, adding toLAs list of marquee players including Landon Donovan and David Beckham. The Republic of Ireland captain brings a longgoalscoring pedigree with him, and is not only his countrys leading scorer butis also tied for 10th place on the list of all-time goal scorers inthe English Premier League. Hes a quality player, hes got a fantastic pedigree, sonothing changes, Yallop said of Keane. Weve just got to be aware of hisstrengths and weaknesses, tell the players as much as we can and what heslike, hes just very sharp around the goal, very quick player, hes dangerous.The Earthquakes can take one small advantage with them downto Los Angeles,though: theyve seen Keane before. Last summer, Keane was part of the TottenhamHotspur team that toured the the summer, kicking off its tour at Buck Shaw Stadium, where Keane startedand the two teams played to a 0-0 draw. Still, the Earthquakes werent readingtoo much into their encounter with him a year ago. At least its a player we have stood on the field against,so our defenders in Bobby and Jason, our center backs will at least know whathe looks like, Yallop said. Goalkeeper Jon Busch argued the importance of the upcominggame far outweighed what was simply an exhibition last summer, responding whenasked if the team had any sort of advantage, Nah. I dont even remember if hedid anything in that game. That was a friendly, a fun Saturday afternoonkickabout, and this is a league game, so big difference. For their part, the Earthquakes will hope their own newsigning Ecuadorian forward Edmundo Zura could be available to featureagainst the Galaxy. While not quite the same caliber of signing as Keane, Zurawill nonetheless be counted on to help revitalize the Earthquakes by providinga consistent partner up top for Chris Wondolowski. Zura was scheduled to get his visa in Quitoon Wednesday, and the most likely scenario for the Earthquakes will be that hejoins the team in Los Angeles,where he would be available to play. With or without Zura, though, the onus is on San Jose to conjure up aresult in one of the venues in which it has struggled the most in MLS. Any other game of the year, I think a draw down there ispretty good, but obviously with the streak weve been on lately I think a winwould be huge, Burling said. The Earthquakes can take hope from the fact they actuallycame close to finding that elusive win in last years game at the Galaxy. Theystaked themselves to a 2-1 lead in the late stages of the game, only to bepegged back in the 90th minute by a tying goal Landon Donovan, astoryline with tinges of this years struggles. With a different team in a different season, though, theEarthquakes are not even trying to look back at their recent struggles, muchless a game from a year ago. It seems that were getting punished for any tiny mistakewe make, but thats football, Yallop said. Weve got to get ourselves out ofit and its 11 on 11, were ready to go.For more Earthquakes, MLS and world soccer musings,you can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter: @nicholasrosano