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Backline consistency key in Earthquakes win

06 August 2:40 pm

Backline consistency key in Earthquakes win

By Frank Stranzl

The Earthquakes posted their fourth clean sheet of the season in Saturday’s grand opening of Levi’s Stadium, blanking conference-leading Seattle Sounders FC 1-0.

There were plenty of positives to take from the match – Chris Wondolowski channeling his inner John Stockon, Yannick Djalo finding the net for the second-straight game and Jon Busch’s continued heroics in goal, among them.

Maybe the most important thing to take away from the win: backline consistency.

Every team goes through their share of injury woes, but few have been as unfortunate as the Earthquakes in 2014, specifically on the backline. Offseason signing Andreas Gorlitz went down with a season-ending ACL tear against Colorado on May 7, Brandon Barklage has battled through multiple knocks, Jason Hernandez went on a two-month hiatus after a badly strained quad in the season opener against Real Salt Lake, Clarence Goodson will be in a boot for the next 6-8 weeks due to a sprained toe and both Shaun Francis and Jordan Stewart have missed games with various ailments. Center back Victor Bernardez has been a model of good health, but was MIA for six games while representing Honduras at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Long story short: Every Earthquakes defender has missed time due to injury or international duty this season.

Fortunately for San Jose, they seem to have found some consistency. Shaun Francis, Victor Bernardez, Jason Hernandez and Jordan Stewart have started three straight games together, compiling a 2-0-1 record in the process. The last time San Jose started the same group on its backline in three-straight games? August of 2013. And it’s only happened three times since the beginning of the 2013 season.

As any player or coach would tell you, winning in MLS is tough enough due to parity, lengthy travel and various other homefield advantages, but winning without a consistent back four is even more difficult. Don’t be surprised if you see more clean sheets as the defensive unit continues to gel during this period of (relatively) good health.

Games

RB

RCB

LCB

LB

# Times

3/15 vs. RSL

Cato

Bernardez

Hernandez

Francis

1

3/22 at SKC

Cato

Bernardez

Goodson

Francis

1

3/29 vs. NE

Barklage

Bernardez

Goodson

Stewart

1

4/13 vs. CLB

Barklage

Bernardez

Goodson

Stewart

2

4/19 at COL

Gorlitz

Bernardez

Goodson

Harden

1

4/26 vs. CHV

Gorlitz

Bernardez

Goodson

Stewart

1

5/3 at VAN

Barklage

Bernardez

Goodson

Stewart

3

5/7 vs. COL

Gorlitz

Bernardez

Harden

Stewart

1

5/10 vs. DAL

Barklage

Bernardez

Goodson

Stewart

4

5/17 at SEA

Barklage

Harden

Stewart

Francis

1

5/25 vs. HOU

Barklage

Harden

Stewart

Francis

2

5/31 at DAL

Francis

Harden

Goodson

Stewart

1

6/7 at TOR

Barklage

Harden

Goodson

Stewart

1

6/28 vs. LA

Barklage

Harden

Hernandez

Stewart

1

7/2 vs. CHV

Barklage

Harden

Hernandez

Stewart

2

7/11 vs. DC

Barklage

Bernardez

Goodson

Stewart

5

7/19 at NY

Francis

Bernardez

Hernandez

Stewart

1

7/23 vs. CHI

Francis

Bernardez

Hernandez

Stewart

2

8/2 vs. SEA

Francis

Bernardez

Hernandez

Stewart

3