SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The wish list for San Jose Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch’s 37th birthday had but one item on it:
Beat Sporting Kansas City.
It didn’t come wrapped in the prettiest of packages, but the Quakes ultimately came through Sunday night for their oldest teammate, delivering a 1-0 victory that will go down as Busch’s 100th career MLS win.
“For me, the most important thing was getting three points and keeping ourselves in the playoff hunt today,” Busch said. “No matter what it took, we wanted the three points. That was the only birthday present I wanted. And the icing on the cake is obviously getting the shutout and making that my 100th win, on my birthday. I guess the stars all lined up for us today.”
Busch is just the seventh keeper to reach the 100-win plateau in MLS history, and he referenced one of the other six – Scott Garlick, a former minor-league teammate of Busch’s – while reflecting on his achievement.
“For me, it’s very humbling to be with those guys, because those are some very good goalkeepers and have done it for many, many years,” Busch said. “In my opinion, it shows consistency in those guys. That’s what I’ve always strived for, from day one. When I was first trying to make it, I remember Scott Garlick always telling me, ‘It’s not how quickly you get there, it’s how long you stay.’”
Busch has stayed longer than some perhaps expected, having written himself a third act after being cut loose by Columbus in March 2007 and getting pushed out of Chicago in favor of Sean Johnson just before the start of the 2010 campaign.
The Quakes quickly snapped up Busch despite having incumbent Joe Cannon – another member of the 100-Win Club – on board, and when Cannon broke an ankle in training midway through that season, Busch grabbed the job for good. Busch hasn’t let go of his role -- despite the presence of 23-year-old David Bingham, a highly touted local product -- by virtue of relentless effort, especially on the training field.
“It’s fantastic,” Quakes interim coach Mark Watson said. “It’s a testament of quality over time. We’re very fortunate to have Buschy. 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.”
There was no cake in the Quakes’ locker room after the game, although the team was going to present Busch with a signed game ball. His teammates had already given Busch a gag gift before the game in the form of a letter meant to “give him a little heckling for being one of the older guys on the team,” defender Jason Hernandez admitted.
“But he used it as fuel to get his 100th win and a shutout,” Hernandez said. “So maybe we’ll put something there every game.”