Quakes' Robles savors Argentina's hot start

Buenos Aires native expects deep run for Maradona's crew

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- As an MLS rookie with the San Jose Earthquakes, Javier Robles’ 2010 has not exactly gone as planned.

As a World Cup fan, however, Robles’ 2010 couldn’t get much better.

Robles may not have made an league appearance for the Quakes since San Jose’s opening night loss to Real Salt Lake, but the 25 year-old from Buenos Aires can take solace in the spectacular form of Argentina’s national team, which followed its taut 1-0 win over Nigeria with a 4-1 pasting of South Korea.

“I like a lot how they’re playing and obviously, I’m excited about it,” Robles told MLSsoccer.com through a translator.

Although the Argentines are all but guaranteed a spot in the knockout round, regardless of how their final match goes, Robles said that Diego Maradona -- the controversial choice as Argentina’s coach -- still hasn’t won over all of his critics, despite the results.

“It doesn’t really put (the controversy) to rest, because he was a great player, but that doesn’t always mean you’re going to coach the same way,” Robles said. “But he’s coaching the same way he played, and his players are playing better in the games.”

Since Maradona led the 1986 team to Argentina’s second title in three World Cups, the team has mostly disappointed, failing to get past the quarterfinals in its last four tries. Robles is hopeful for a different outcome this time.

“Based on how the World Cup is going, the games I’ve seen and how they’re playing, I think they have a good chance (to win),” Robles said.

The same could be said for many of Argentina’s neighbors. In addition to perennial favorite Brazil, Uruguay leads Group A, Chile is tied atop Group H and Paraguay controls its own fate in the wide-open Group F.

That means all five CONMEBOL qualifiers could reach the round of 16; the World Cup doesn’t arrive in Brazil until 2014, but already it has a very South American flavor.

“Yeah, it could be the time (for South American dominance),” Robles said. “France looks like they’re out, England’s not looking so great. It’s been difficult for those European teams, where South American teams are doing much better.”

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