Convey accepts shift to left back for Quakes

Necessity moves San Jose's main playmaker out of midfield spot

Bobby Convey knows why he’s playing left back for the San Jose Earthquakes at this point in the season.

Just don’t expect him to feign joy at the prospect.

Convey has enjoyed a renaissance this season with the Quakes, delivering precision passes from the left wing – he’s fourth in the league with eight assists – and teaming with captain and left back Ramiro Corrales to lock down opponents’ right-sided attackers.

With Corrales out for several weeks because of a sprained knee, however, Convey has had to relinquish his spot and slide down to fill in at left back. And if you describe the decision by coach Frank Yallop as wasting some of Convey’s talents, he won’t argue with that characterization.

“It’s not as exciting as playing left mid,” Convey told MLSsoccer.com. “But I had to do it. That’s what Frank wanted, so that’s what I’ve done.”

To this point, the Quakes’ 4-4-2 system has put a lot of emphasis on counterattacking and use of the longball. The backs have not made a tremendous number of overlapping runs, which limits Convey’s chances to get involved offensively.

“I have to defend more and just pass off to the guys who are in front of me, because if I go forward, I’ll be out of position too often,” Convey said.

Yallop has tried to spin the move as an opportunity. It’s true that Convey had the Quakes’ best scoring opportunity in a 1-0 loss at Colorado two weeks ago when he moved up from left back – Corrales had gotten hurt earlier in the match – and took a dangerous blast from distance.

“Bobby’s played well at mid, but like I said to him, ‘You’ll be the best attacking left back in the league now,’” Yallop said.

Convey might not like being stuck at left back, but his performance Saturday helped show why Yallop has chosen to use him there instead of rookie Justin Morrow.

Matched up against Kei Kamara, Kansas City’s leading scorer, Convey shut him down cold. Of the 12 shots taken by the Wizards, Kamara tallied exactly zero before getting replaced in the 82nd minute by Josh Wolff.

“Playing against Kei Kamara is a tough game,” Yallop said. “Playing with the spirit he had … [Convey] showed a great commitment to the team and did terrifically well. I thought he was outstanding.”

As a consolation prize, Convey might inherit something else from Corrales: The captain’s armband. Yallop’s first choice of replacement, Jason Hernandez, is facing a two-game suspension after being red-carded against the Wizards.

“I may make [Convey] captain on the weekend,” Yallop said. “He deserves it with his play and his endeavor on the field.

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