They are the most unlikely of scoring duos. They weren’t even a duo until the third week of the season, a partnership created out of necessity. And they’ve helped the Quakes win three of four, outscoring their opponents 9-3, and doing their best to assist the defensive effort in three shutouts.
Ryan Johnson and Chris Wondolowski. What were the odds? These two guys, a forward tandem? And the man they call Wondo is the third-leading scorer in the league. He has now scored in a team-record four-consecutive games.
And who knows how long it lasts? To use a surfing metaphor, the Quakes will ride this wave as long as they can.
Johnson and Wondolowski are keeping guys like proven MLS scorers Cornell Glen and Scott Sealy on the bench, and doing a whole lot to overcome the absence of Arturo Alvarez, who it seems was just about to bust out before a hamstring injury sidelined him three weeks ago.
It’s all about the depth on this team now. It was a major focus of General Manager John Doyle and Coach Frank Yallop in the off-season.
“This is one of the deepest teams I’ve ever been a part of,” Wondolowski said. “When you have guys pushing you, it makes you better.”
Johnson, too, says the competition is good for everybody, “It keeps everybody hungry,” he says. “It keeps everybody on their toes.”
Wondolowski says all the talent on this team, “makes you want to work harder, to stay longer, to try to improve as much as you can.”
Through seven weeks of the season (the Quakes have two games in hand on many of the teams in the league) only two players have more goals than Wondo, Galaxy’s Edson Buddle (9) and Toronto’s Dwayne DeRosario, (6).
“He’s as good as any forward we have here, including me,” Johnson says of his forward partner. “It’s just that he took (advantage of) his opportunities, and he’s putting them away. He deserves every goal he’s getting because he works just as hard as everyone.”
Johnson led the Quakes with 11 goals last year, and he finally got on in the back of the net, against the Red Bulls in their 4-0 win last Saturday.
Johnson also had two assists in that game, and now has four assists to go along with his one goal this season. Johnson may have played in his best all around game, against New York. He was holding the ball, passing it deftly and keeping his defensive position. [New York played a man down for about 75 minutes of the game.]
These guys are raising their game and a whole lot of eyebrows early in this 2010 season.
May 7, 2010: Captain Ramiro Still Going Strong
Fifteen seasons of Major League Soccer and a half-dozen men who played in season No. 1 remain in the league. One of them is a San Jose Earthquake, Ramiro Corrales.
And he’s playing pretty well right now. Not the fastest, not the biggest, not the youngest guy on the field. But, “He’s savvy, he gets in the right spots and he doesn’t get exposed,” coach Frank Yallop said of his 33-year-old captain.
“Not many of us left,” Corrales said of the class of ’96. “I’m blessed I’m still healthy and able to play.”
And he’s a better player than he was when he came off the campus of North Salinas High School 14 years ago with all that energy and those young legs.
“(It’s) experience; when I was 18 I got beat more than I do now because I was so anxious to win the ball. But now I take my time, wait for the right moment to go in and close the ball down.”
The list of players Corrales has been a part of closing down this year is impressive; guys like Patrick Nyarko of Chicago, Sainey Nyassi of New England and Colorado’s Omar Cummings. “You have to be focused and be alert,” he said. “And Bobby (Convey) has done a good job in front of me.”
Corrales spent a considerable time in the midfield the last two years, but he’s more of a natural left back, which is where he’s been for every game this season. That’s where Yallop wanted to play him all along, but put Corrales in the midfield out of necessity. “That’s where I played the most throughout my career,” Corrales said. “I played left back for all three years I was in Norway.”
Most teams who come into Buck Shaw Stadium look at the backline and think if they’re going to expose someone with their speed, it’s Corrales. And he gets the best of them nearly every time.
“He’s frustrating to play against,” Yallop said. “He’s a good pro, and he’s making it difficult to play against. He’s playing well right now. I thought last game (a 1-0 win over Colorado) he played great.”
Corrales said he’s not really a vocal captain, but he tries to get the guys going, get them in the right frame of mind. It’s really more subtle than rah-rah, more about hard work and about a guy doing his job.
“Hopefully the young guys take notice,” he said. “And see that after 15 years I’m still working hard.”
Hard to miss that message - it’s on display at left back every night the Quakes take the field.
April 30, 2010: Grand Opening
George Best didn’t have one. Not Paul Child before him, not Landon Donovan nor John Doyle, nor any of the hundreds of players who were with the San Jose Earthquakes of any era, or with the San Jose Clash. None of them had their own training facility, a home practice field they could call their own.
“For me it’s a great day,” said General Manager of Soccer Operations John Doyle, the East Bay native who played and coached for the Clash and Quakes. “I’ve been excited for this day since I was a young player.”
This, Doyle is talking about, is Friday’s grand opening of the Nutrilite Training Facility on Coleman Avenue in San Jose. It sits right next to the piece of land on which the Quakes are hoping to build a stadium soon.
“There have been a lot of good teams and good players to come through this place who never had the privilege of having this,” said defender Jason Hernandez. “And it truly is a privilege.” Doyle says it seems like such a small thing to have what he calls “a piece of grass that your team can practice on.” But, “to have a world class field and facility like this is great for us.”
The Nutrilite Training Facility has a big, beautifully manicured field, plus side space for the goalies and for other more individual work.
“We’re excited. It’s a place to call home,” Hernandez said. “To have a place to hone your skills, to get better. It’s a place we can count on.”
And there are some big picture advantages, Doyle says, such as a place for the U.S. National Team to practice when in town.
“It’s just a down payment,” said San Jose mayor Chuck Reed, on hand for the grand opening. “Just the first step,” in the great history of this site. Reed said, “We’re going to do everything we can,” to make sure a stadium gets built nearby.
“The sky’s the limit,” Hernandez said.
“It does get you excited,” Doyle said. “If you’re the general manager, or a fan, or you simply love soccer like I do.”
March 28, 2010: Blind-sided on Opening Day
So, we didn’t see that coming. Nobody did.
Not Jason Kreis, the coach of Real Salt Lake. (They won only two games on the road all last season, until they won two games on the road in the playoffs.)
Not coach Frank Yallop of the Earthquakes.
Not the players. Not the media. Not the fans.
Opening night was a stinker for the Quakes, not much of an argument from anybody, except maybe that group of drum-pounding RSL fans in the southwest corner of the stadium. 3-0 RSL, says the scoreboard.
“There’s not much that I can say, positively, defensively,” said Yallop, always the standup guy. “It looked like defensively, we were a shambles.”
Yallop was forced to take two of his high-profile guys, midfielders Bobby Convey and Javier Robles, out of the game at halftime.
After the Quakes were reduced to ten men–when Chris Leitch was red carded on the play that helped set up the Morales free kick goal–the Qs seemed to gain some footing, and had some decent chances to score (from Cornell Glen, Arturo Alvarez and Andre Luiz). The team that is getting outplayed, though, doesn’t seem to get many lucky breaks. On this early spring night, that opened under clear skies and with much optimism, that aphorism remained true.
Now, let’s step back from the emotional outrage and watch those highlights one more time. They include two of the most brilliant MLS goals ever scored in Buck Shaw Stadium, both by Javier Morales.
One of them on a 30-yard blast on the short hop in the first half: A shot that sliced into the upper right hand corner of the net. Joe Cannon didn’t have a chance. The other: A 19-yard free kick in the second half that curled into the upper right hand corner. Joe Cannon didn’t have a chance.
Chalk it up to one night at the park, or better yet, look at the historical relevance of the game, not the final score. When Morales wins ‘Goal of the Year’ you can say ‘I was there’.
Here is some good news:
……10.589 at Buck Shaw, and they wanted to have fun. They were into the game……
……Rookie defender Ike Opara seemed to get more comfortable as the game wore on, after what he admitted was a shaky start……
…..Beer in the stands….. it helped the patrons leave with a better taste in their mouths……
……A week off before a trip to Chicago, and then back to take on New England. This leaves plenty of time for the coach Frank Yallop and the general manager John Doyle to get the attention of every member of the team……
…….29 games to go in the regular season……..
……and a fine debut on the radio Saturday night for former Quake Kelly Gray….