Rosano: Despite unbeaten streak, Quakes can improve

Rosano: Despite unbeaten streak, Quakes can improve
June 10, 2011, 11:32 pm
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Nick Rosano

SAN JOSE -- The San JoseEarthquakes might be on their best run of results since 2008, but ask them, andtheyll say they can play even better. In each of his past three postgame pressconferences after home wins, head coach Frank Yallop has expressed his desirefor even better play, especially in terms of moving the ball around the field.Weve actually done that for the past three home games thatweve won, not played particularly well in the first half, Yallop said afterlast Saturdays 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. Despite winning their last three home games and tying two onthe road, the Earthquakes have managed to score only one goal in the firsthalf, Chris Wondolowskis opener in a 1-1 draw with Vancouver on May 11. When the Earthquakestake to the field on the road at D.C. United on Saturday evening, it will havebeen exactly a month since the teams last first-half goal. However, the Earthquakes are keenly aware of this fact, andthis week they have looked to continue improving their passing game to augmentthe positive signs the team has shown in the past few weeks. We worked on it this week, Yallop said. I didnt think weplayed particularly well on Saturday. It wasnt a great performance of playingsoccer, but what we did show is fight, scrap, and good finishes. We just talked about moving it quicker and getting it offour feet, goalkeeper Jon Busch said. One and two touch, not standing on theball and not letting it die, just keep it moving, and I think weve done wellwith that. Some of the struggle to move the ball can be attributed tothe cautious nature of the teams visiting Buck Shaw, who like to keep menbehind the ball, coupled with the Earthquakes preference to play a tight,defensively sound first half. Some teams come in here, not necessarily trying to go afterus, but being satisfied with a point and getting a tie, defender JasonHernandez said after the win over Houston. Weve talked about being really tight in the first half ofevery game or the first 20 minutes, not give them a goal, Yallop added. Ithink weve really settled into that and maybe not played better from that, butits worked. While some teams struggle to create chances because they seeso little of the ball, winning possession has not necessarily been the issuefor the Earthquakes. The midfield duo of Sam Cronin and Brad Ring has done verywell at shutting down opponents offenses and winning the ball, and are nowlooking to continue improving the offensive side of their game. Were always trying to work on ball movement, Cronin said.Defensively, the pressure mentality is the basis for our game, but we thinkwere capable of being a team that moves the ball and knocks the ball aroundwell, makes the other team work. Fans caught a glimpse of this quick movement in the dyingminutes of Saturdays win, when Cronin played a good give and go with SimonDawkins, who collected Cronins pass to score on a breakaway. With many of theteams goals coming from crosses out wide, Cronins defense-splitting verticalball was a sign that the team, even though it has found a successful formula,is continuing to look for new ways to break down opponents. Im always working on all aspects of my game and the moretimes I see that final pass and slot people through thats what I need to bedoing, Cronin said. With Cronin and Ring starting to form a good understandingin the center of the park and looking to sharpen their offensive talents,better passing soccer wont be far off for the Earthquakes. Each opponent willpresent different tests, but now, the Earthquakes could start looking to forcetheir opponent to adapt to their style, a hallmark of a strong team andpossible sign of good things to come.For more Earthquakes, MLS and soccer musings, youcan follow Nick Rosano on Twitter: @nicholasrosano

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