Jon Busch hits individual milestones but stays focused on team success

Watson on Busch: “He’s an incredible professional. He works harder than any player I’ve seen."

Jon Busch’s legend grows with every save and every shutout, but the Earthquakes goalkeeper seems much more focused on the process than his place in the record books.

With a militaristic, borderline maniacal attention to detail, Busch notched his 73rd career shutout in a scoreless draw with Vancouver on Sept. 14 at Buck Shaw Stadium, moving into a tie for fifth all-time in MLS with Matt Reis.

But the Quakes’ objectives, chasing a playoff spot and advancement in the CONCACAF Champions League, are front and center as autumn beckons

“I never played this game for individual accomplishments,” Busch said. “I think when it’s all said and done, that’s when you look back and say, ‘Wow. I did this,' or 'I did that, and I was pretty decent at what I did,’...that kind of thing.”

The 37-year-old Busch added that his individual landmarks this year, such as earning his 100th and 101st career wins to move to No. 7 all-time in MLS, are a byproduct of lessons he learned from other great keepers.

“For me, it shows what Scott Garlick and Pat Onstad talked to me about years ago, and that was just consistency from day to day, from game to game, to year to year. Those accomplishments are the rewards for the consistency over the years.”

Just how disciplined is the 5-foot-10 keeper?

“I would use the word ‘anal,’” he says. “I have my routines. I stick by them religiously, day to day, year to year, and I have things that I do each day to prepare for the weekend games. The same with my offseason workouts and things like that. I know what works for me and gets me prepared each year. There’s nothing really that will get in my way of that.”

Quakes interim coach Mark Watson is not lost on Busch’s remarkable dedication and lasting success.

“We’re very fortunate to have Buschy,” Watson said after Busch collected his 100th career win on his 37th birthday against Sporting Kansas City on Aug. 18. “He’s an incredible professional. He works harder than any player I’ve ever seen. I think that’s a big reason why he’s been so successful for such a long time.”

Busch, a native of Queens, N.Y. and a New York Rangers fan, knows there’s a short window of time for a professional athlete’s career. So he focuses on the things he can control to maximize his performance.

“When I’m done playing, then I’ll have plenty of years after that to do all kinds of other things, whether it’s travel or whatever,” said Busch, who donates $50 for every save to the Navy SEAL Foundation.

The goal, he says, is when he finally hangs up the gloves, he can say, “I gave it everything I got. I have no regrets whatsoever.”

Busch agreed that the Quakes squad is composed primarily of tough-minded individuals who have been discarded by other clubs. This misfit reality has added to their camaraderie and drive to succeed as a unit.

“We’re all kind of castoffs from other teams,” he said. “I think that’s one of the big things that bonds this team together and the reason why we love hanging out together and we love being around each other on a day-to-day basis. Every one of us kind of comes from a similar scenario.”

After starring at North Carolina-Charlotte, Busch spent his first five seasons in the A-League from 1997 to 2001. The son of Robert and Madeline Busch, whose father is a Lutheran Pastor, Jon got his MLS career rolling with the Columbus Crew in 2002. He moved to the Chicago Fire in 2007, and the Earthquakes scooped him up in 2010. He overcame a severely sprained ankle in 2003, a torn right ACL in 2005 and another knee injury in 2006. He was MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2007.

Fittingly, after signing with the Quakes, Busch had a shutout in his debut on June 25, 2010, against Real Salt Lake. He is currently ranked eighth all-time in saves with 973 and 11th in goals-against average, at 1.24 a game.

To the present, Busch is offering grudging support for the Emirates Team New Zealand boat in the America’s Cup out of respect for Quakes keeper coach Jason Batty, a native of Auckland, New Zealand.

Batty, Busch and the Quakes talented younger keepers, David Bingham and Evan Newton, have formed quite a unit.

“Batty is awesome. Batty is great,” Busch said. “We hit it off right away when I first got here. We have a very good rapport. We’re obviously similar in age, so that always helps, but at the end of the day I have a lot of respect for him. He’s done it in this game. He knows what he’s talking about.”

So, by the way, does Jon Busch. He's a keeper

- Richter Media