Quakes may have new No. 1 'keeper in Busch

Veteran gets shutout in SJ debut, expected to start vs. DC

When the San Jose Earthquakes acquired goalkeeper Jon
Busch during the first week of the MLS season, coach Frank Yallop and general
manager John Doyle said they wanted to push incumbent Joe Cannon.

That competition has officially turned white-hot after Busch
stepped in Friday night for his first MLS action with the Quakes and put up a
clean sheet on the road against defending champions Real Salt Lake.

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That’s the same RSL side which blitzed the Quakes 3-0 in the
season opener, days before Busch arrived after being cut by the Chicago Fire. It was also the same RSL squad that averaged 2.5 goals per match through its first six games
at Rio Tinto Stadium.

In other words, not a bad debut for Busch -- one that’s sure to ignite
debate over who should be the Quakes’ No. 1 keeper.

“This is what you get paid to do,” Busch said. “You get paid
to be prepared. You never know what’s going to happen at any point of the
season. You never know when you’re going to get your opportunity.”

Actually, we do know one thing: Yallop was pleased enough
with Busch’s work that he said the 33-year-old will “most probably” be back in
the nets against D.C. United next weekend. Beyond that, however, Yallop
wouldn’t commit to anything.

“Jon’s shown over the years that he’s good in MLS,” Yallop
said. “Sometimes you get to use those (backups). He did very well.”

Punching away a dangerous corner kick by Javier Morales in
the sixth minute helped settle down Busch, who had been told about the starting role earlier in the week.

In the 40th minute, Busch stoned RSL midfielder Will Johnson, who had been
sprung by Fabian Espindola, a primary Quakes tormentor.

That turned out to be Busch’s only official save, although
he was constantly in motion, either going after crosses or, as in the 76th
minute, making a well-timed charge to gobble up a through ball which was being
eyed hungrily by Espindola.

“I just did my job,” Busch said. “My job is to make saves
and catch crosses. Credit to the guys in front of me, they did a tremendous job
blocking shots and putting bodies in the way. They made it easy for me. I
didn’t have to do too much.”

Yallop said only that it was a “coach’s decision” to bench
Cannon, who started out hot this season with five shutouts in his first eight
matches. But there were some noticeable communication slipups between Cannon
and his defenders in the Quakes’ run-up to the World Cup break -- when they lost twice
and drew at home.

With Busch, who is rarely (if ever) silent between the
posts, the Quakes were able to keep their new back-four alignment -- rookie Ike
Opara and Bobby Burling in the middle, with Jason Hernandez moving wide right
-- in good order all evening.

“Jon Busch had us all in tune for the whole 90 minutes,”
Opara said. “He kept us sharp. He didn’t really have to make a game-changing
save tonight, but I think for him it was good to get that kind of result. We’ll
see what the situation is moving forward.”

There was a little humor in the timing of the move, given
that Busch was moved to call Real Salt Lake “my daddy” in April after he failed
to come up with a save in RSL’s shootout win against the Quakes during U.S.
Open Cup qualifying. Busch also came up empty in a similar situation with
Chicago in the semifinals of last season’s MLS Cup Playoffs against RSL.

Now, shutting out the defending champs could be Busch’s launching pad in his
bid to wrest the top spot from Cannon, who started 69 of the Quakes’ first 71
matches since being re-established in 2008 and holds every franchise
goalkeeping record of note.

“I’ve never said I need to be the No. 1 goalkeeper,” Busch
said. “I think a goalkeeper needs to prove it game in and game out, and day in
and day out in training. If Frank wants to name me for next weekend, fantastic.
But I never look ahead of one game at a time. I have to prove myself every
game.”

Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He
can be reached at sanjosequakes@gmail.com. On Twitter: @sjquakes