Home has been pretty sweet for Earthquakes interim coach Mark Watson. Ditto his players.
The club is 5-0-0 at home with the not-so-new guy in charge, and if the Earthquakes can extend Watson’s roll to a seven-spot over the next two weeks, the playoff chatter will surely start hitting home as well late in the season.
Watson said. “We’ve got a good team. We’ve had a tough year and it’s been a big key in terms of getting the season back on track.”
The Quakes are looking to max out with six points in a pivotal MLS homestand -- against Philadelphia on Sunday and Vancouver on Sept. 14. They will also host Montreal in the CONCACAF Champions League on Sept. 17.
Home cooking can’t hurt their chances.
“We love being at home,” goalkeeper Jon Busch said. “We love playing in front of our fans. They always make a lot of noise. We always try to play soccer the right way, and especially at home. There’s a little bit more urgency at home. Going into these two games, we know the importance of picking up points to try to keep ourselves in the playoff hunt. These next two games are critical for us.”
MLS teams are all tough at home, but the Earthquakes’ Goonies spirit seems to take things to another level. The Earthquakes were unbeaten at Buck Shaw Stadium during the 2012 regular season, and they’re 7-1-4 in Santa Clara this season; 8-1-4 at home (including Stanford).
Watson attributes the team’s home success, especially in the final moments, to a combination of the players’ determination and the fans’ exuberance when the team presses the attack.
Busch, whose tenacious play and flawless footwork help make him a fan favorite, attributes the Buck Shaw advantage to the atmosphere and just being at home.
“It’s the 12th Man and it really gets us going,” Busch said. “We love playing there, and as long as we don’t have to deal with the sun in the first half, we’re good.”
Watson expects a strong attacking challenge from Philadelphia on Sunday.
“They’re a good team. They’re organized,” Watson said. “They’ve got some dangerous guys going forward, so we’ll be really respectful of that but continue to focus on the things that we do really well at home and try and get the result.”
Working to the Quakes’ advantage, the visitors will have to create their own momentum for 90 minutes.
"It's really tough to go on the road and get results in this league,” Watson said. “There are a lot of tough places to play and a lot of parity in the league. Most teams are pretty strong, and they’re also comfortable at home. For whatever reason, we’ve been poor on the road and good at home. ... We’ll ultimately look to get some points on the road, which is something we’ll have to do to make the playoffs.”
-- Richter Media