San Jose midfielder/forward Arturo Alvarez lived through the Earthquakes’ lean years of 2008 and 2009, but it looks like he’ll have to continue to wait to enjoy the fruits of a more successful 2010.
Alvarez, out since straining his left hamstring April 14 in the Quakes’ penalty-kick loss to Real Salt Lake in a U.S. Open Cup qualifier, suffered a setback Wednesday when he asked out of the team’s practice after feeling more tightness in the same muscle.
“Playing today, I felt it again a little bit, so that’s not really good news,” Alvarez told MLSsoccer.com. “I’m going to go get an MRI and really see what’s going on in there.”
Alvarez had progressed from individual work to full participation in practices this week, and played well enough in a scrimmage Tuesday against local amateur side Los Gatos Storm that coach Frank Yallop sounded cautiously optimistic about his availability for the Quakes’ match Saturday against New England.
“He looked confident in that little bit of a game there,” Yallop said. “Hopefully, he’s OK.”
Those hopes were dashed 24 hours later when Alvarez tried to make a 10-yard sprint through other players in an intrasquad drill.
“This whole week, I was working on my fitness; I felt good,” Alvarez said. “I don’t know what exactly went on today, but we’ll see. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious.”
Alvarez said he was hoping to get an MRI by Thursday at the latest. The team is planning to fly to Boston on Thursday and train there Friday in anticipation for their match against the Revolution.
Although the Quakes have won three of four matches without Alvarez, he’s still a probable starter when healthy -- although the burgeoning partnership between Ryan Johnson and Chris Wondolowski in the front line and the work of Bobby Convey and Joey Gjertsen on the wings might force a reassessment of that status.
“Obviously, as a player, you want to be playing,” Alvarez said. “You don’t want to be injured. It’s already been four games that I’ve been sitting on the sideline, watching the team. I’m very happy the team’s doing well, but as a player, you want to be a part of that, on the field. It’s been a rough couple of weeks.”
Alvarez suffered his injury on the same night that teammates Eduardo and Cornell Glen also went out with left hamstring strains. Where the other two left the pitch almost immediately, Alvarez -- who came on with Eduardo in the 61st minute -- played until the bitter end of a 120-minute tie that required PKs to decide. Alvarez, with his leg bothering him, missed the Quakes’ first shot, and RSL eventually won the shootout, 5-3.
Given that Eduardo and Glen have both returned from their hamstring issues (although Eduardo is out again with an oblique problem), would it have been more prudent for Alvarez to have come off as well, even if it meant forcing the team to play with 10 men?
“It probably wasn’t a good idea, but I was able to do it,” Alvarez said. “Obviously I’m paying the consequences, but I thought we were going to go through, and we almost did. I was playing well, and I wanted to stay out there and help my team, because we didn’t have any more subs.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. On Twitter: @sjquakes