Rosano: 'Quakes improve but can't snap streak

August 7, 2011, 5:49 am
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Aug. 7, 2011


Nick Rosano

SANTA CLARA -- Most who watched the Earthquakes draw 1-1 with the visiting Portland Timbers on Saturday evening will tell you the team looked better than in last weekend's reverse against D.C. United. Unfortunately for the Earthquakes, though, just improving might not be enough anymore, especially given the emphasis players and staff put on winning this game earlier in the week. "I thought it was a terrific performance, maybe not as goal-dangerous as I would like," head coach Frank Yallop said after the game. "I thought team-wise, it was a good solid performance." The Earthquakes did indeed look an improved side from the one that went down 2-0 last weekend to D.C. United, but the team's inability to create enough dangerous chances ultimately cost them a vital three points. Despite playing a significant amount of the game inside Portlands half, the team needed a second half goal from recent acquisition Alan Gordon to secure a point after falling behind in the first half. Despite having their first choice defenders back on the field for the first time in over a month, the Earthquakes defense was made to look foolish when the Timbers pulled ahead in the 23rd minute. Jorge Perlaza got a step on Jason Hernandez, and was being kept onside by Burling, and crossed to a wide-open Kenny Cooper, who had no trouble finishing. I think the initial ball came from the midfield, kind of a bang-bang play, Burling said. I was trailing the play, I didnt get in front of Kenny Cooper. Its a tough sequence, tough turnover and just took one play off and thats the game sometimes. Luckily for the Earthquakes, they looked motivated coming out of the break, and despite an early scare from Perlaza, the team was able to take control of the proceedings. The goal finally game in the 67th minute as Steven Beitashour, making his first start in over a month after coming back from injury, swung in a cross from the right that Alan Gordon was able to redirect into the net to tie things up. "I thought Alan took his goal well and he played well when he came on," said Frank Yallop of the play of his new acquisition. Gordon, meanwhile, spoke of the effort of the entire team, saying, I thought we played really well. We had some chances and I was just the one that got on the end of the cross. It was more a team effort tonight, and I was happy to give what I could. Unfortunately for Gordon and the Earthquakes, it might be a while until the well traveled forward sees the field again. He revealed to reporters that he has a lingering double hernia that was misdiagnosed by the medical staff at his former club Toronto FC and will likely require surgery. Despite only earning a draw, the Earthquakes were generally pleased with an improved performance after last Saturdays fairly listless outing against D.C. United. I definitely think that we took a step forward, said Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski. I think to be honest, this was one of our better games all year, especially going forward. I thought we kept some pretty good possession, and thats why its just so frustrating not to come away with three points. Particularly noticeable was the play of Bobby Convey, who was given license by Yallop to play in more of a free role and provide a creative spark to the offense. Instead of sticking to his normal left-sided position, Convey received the freedom to tuck into the middle and even venture over to the right side, resulting in a number of dangerous runs and chances. I told Bobby, just go play free. Just try and search the ball and make the difference, and I think it worked, Yallop said. I thought we were dynamic in certain spots without being really dangerous in front of goal that was a big miss. While the improved play is certainly a positive sign, the underlying issues with creating and finishing more chances still surfaced in talking to Yallop and the players following the game. Even with a scoring draw, the team has only managed five goals in its ten game winless streak. There could be help on the way though, even with the MLS transfer window closing on Aug. 15. Earthquakes general manager John Doyle has been on a scouting trip to Brazil to find a creative player or striker that Yallop has claimed the side could use. While there is no definitive sign of a new acquisition, a new signing in the attack could prove a boon in finding those sorely needed goals. With 11 games remaining, seven of which are on the road, the Earthquakes sit four points off a playoff spot, but most teams ahead of them have played fewer games, meaning the Earthquakes will need to start turning draws into wins to retain any hope of replicating their 2010 playoff run. I think weve got to look forward to next weekend and if we do get a win, then it pushes us up, Yallop said. Its not like were out of it, weve got to start picking up some wins for sure, but Id like to think we can win at least enough games to get in the playoffs. With the Earthquakes hosting the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids next weekend, it will be vital for them not just to accept their current state, but to continue building on the positive play that saw them out of the loss column.For more Earthquakes, MLS and world soccer musings, you can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter: @nicholasrosano

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