On Saturday, when Colorado host San Jose in the Eastern Conference Championship (9:30 p.m. ET, FSC), eyes will be on the Rapids’ dynamic duo of Conor Casey and Omar Cummings.
But it could be another pair, one brewing far less longer than the three years Casey and Cummings have been together, that could deliver a surprise.
The Earthquakes’ Geovanni and Eduardo have only been on the same team for two-and-a-half months, but in their nine games together, and as Eduardo’s fitness has improved, San Jose’s Brazilian pair has looked a little more dangerous each match.
They may not have the 28 goals and 14 assists that Casey and Cummings have combined for – as a matter of fact, Geovanni’s has one goal and two assists while Eduardo has yet to tally either – but they've quickly and easily built a friendship and on-field understanding of each other that usually takes months, if not years, to develop.
[inline_node:320438]As two of the three Brazilians on the team (the other being injured Andre Luiz), they’ve built their bond mostly off the pitch.
“Friendship is important to us to always be happy,” Eduardo told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s important because in Brazil, that’s always how it is: always happy, always talking.”
WATCH: GETTING TO KNOW EDUARDO
For the two, spending time together gives them a little piece of their distant Brazil. And for Eduardo, who’s had a difficult time as injuries sidelined him for the better part of the season, it has helped ease what’s been a frustrating year.
The forward, whom the Quakes acquired from Swiss club FC Basel this year, has only played in eight regular-season games and has come on as a sub in the two playoff matches against New York.
“I’m a bit frustrated still because I haven’t been able to play all season, but I’m happy now that I’m well,” Eduardo said. “I’m not at 100 percent – it’s hard to after missing preseason – but I’m no longer injured and that’s important. If I’m needed, I’m ready.”
Geovanni’s and Eduardo’s relationship off the field has translated well onto the pitch. The two have shown a good understanding of each other despite their limited time on the playing field together. In just their first game together, on Sept. 11 against FC Dallas, they showed how well they had jelled.
Geovanni came up with the ball in the midfield and sent a looped pass over Dallas’ defense and onto a streaking Eduardo, who got his foot on the ball but just failed to put it on target.
WATCH: Geovanni, Eduardo connect
“Eduardo’s a great soccer player,” Geovanni told MLSsoccer.com. “Now that he’s healthy, he can come in and he’s helped the team when he’s had the chance. He’s been great for the team [since his return].”
As San Jose’s most physical forward, Eduardo’s size could help the Quakes break down the Rapids defense when the two sides meet on Saturday for the right to go on to dispute the MLS Cup. But to do so, he’ll need his speedier, smaller counterpart to set him up with scoring chances, and that is where their off-field friendship and on-field rapport will be crucial.
“I haven’t known Geovanni for very long, but it’s like I’ve known him for 10 years,” said Eduardo. “It’s the same on the field. We don’t talk a lot when we play, but we know how we play and we understand each other.”