As Quakes' season looms, road form is key

Yallop's group will play six of last nine matches away from home

The San Jose Earthquakes were one of MLS’ best teams on the road last season, recording a 6-5-4 record, second-best in the league.

And if the Quakes are going to repeat their run to the conference finals, they may have to repeat that level of success away from Buck Shaw Stadium.

San Jose will finish their 2011 schedule with six road dates out of their last nine matches, including a three-game trip in the space of eight days, going from Houston to Portland to Colorado in mid-September.

“It’s a slight worry,” Quakes coach Frank Yallop told MLSsoccer.com. “If things don’t go according to plan and you need some points at the end of the season, it’d be nice to have some home games coming.”

San Jose begin the season at home on March 19 against Real Salt Lake, a rematch of their season-opener from 2009, in which the Quakes were soundly trounced, 3-0.

For some, though, San Jose’s most hotly anticipated rematch won’t come until Aug. 13. That’s when Colorado visits Santa Clara in the teams’ first matchup since the Rapids eliminated the Quakes from the 2010 playoffs in the Eastern Conference Championship. Colorado went on to beat FC Dallas 2-1 to win the MLS Cup.

Don’t count Yallop among those fixed on the Rapids, however.

“I don’t look at Colorado any differently,” Yallop said. “Obviously, Colorado won it, and they knocked us out, but it was going to hard to swallow no matter who you played.”

Unlike last year, when the Quakes’ schedule was packed with matches at the end of the season -- five each in September and October -- San Jose’s busiest time of year will come in the height of summer. The Quakes have seven matches in July and five more in August, including the first-ever visit from expansion side Vancouver and former San Jose star goalkeeper Joe Cannon, whom the Whitecaps selected in the expansion draft.

“The problem is, you can’t count on things at any point in the schedule,” Yallop said. “You might have a ton of injuries. We’ve just got to be consistent.”

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