So many questions abound in San Jose these days, and Jason Hernandez has the anwers. MLSsoccer.com reporter Geoff Lepper sat down with the Earthquakes defensive anchor to talk about the team's season opener, the arrival of Jon Busch and bringing a big name to the Bay Area.
MLSsoccer.com: Now that you’ve had a week, can you pull some positives from your 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake?
JH: I think so. I think going a man down and still scrapping and fighting, trying to get a result and at least get one back, that’s a positive I take out of it. But for the most part, I think to come back to work every day and really realize that we are a good team and we do have the right pieces in place. We can look at it as just a missed step or false start. That’s the only way we can look at it. We’re not accepting anything else. We’re not accepting that we’re a worse team or a poor team. We’re a good team. So we’re going to look at it as a motivator, a wake-up call, and it’s on to Chicago.
MLSsoccer.com: Does it have an impact in the locker room when a team brings in someone (in this case, Jon Busch) to compete for the No. 1 goalie position?
JH: No. I think the more quality guys we have around, the better. In my position, at center back spot, there’s a lot of able guys fighting every day. Let’s make each other better. At the goalie spot, it’s the same thing: We have Andrew Weber, who’s a very good goalie. Joe Cannon obviously is proven, and Jon Busch, his reputation precedes him as a quality keeper. The more good guys we have around, it’s only going to pick our level up in the locker room. It’s up to the coaching staff to make decisions.
MLSsoccer.com: Looking at the RSL game, possession was a problem for this team. Was that just a bad night, or is that a deeper problem?
JH: I think it was a combination of Salt Lake having one of the strongest midfields in the league, as proven by their winning a championship last year, and us really not being up to the task, the match the challenge and energy and fight and level of play that they brought. Possession was a bit of an issue, but when you look at overall chances, I think they had four or five great chances and they finished three of them very well. We had four looks at the goal and we don’t get a goal.
That’s the difference between winning and losing. That’s the difference between championships won and championships lost. The difference is going to be in front of net: Can we punish teams when they make a mistake? Because on our end, they made no mistakes. They punished us. Possession is going to be a thing that finishes some games 60-40, 70-30, but at the end of the day, what matters is in front of the net, if we finish and they finish. That determines who wins and losses.
MLSsoccer.com: Is having two weeks off a good thing, or did you wish you were playing sooner?
JH: I think it's a good and a bad thing. It’s good in that it gives us time to rebound and really focus and put work in and iron out the details so that Salt Lake is history. It’s not something that can reoccur. It’s a bad thing because everyone right now is geared up and wanting to play a game, taking it out on one another. Guys are really putting their foot on the pedal, and we’re ready to crank this thing up a little bit, because we understand that the fans deserve more than what we gave them.
The coaching staff and management deserve more than what we gave them. And we owe it to each other. So guys are really looking forward to going to Chicago, and to train up and prepare as strongly as possible until then.
MLSsoccer.com: The league recently added more slots for designated players. If the Quakes were looking for a DP, do you have any suggestions?
A: Guys overseas, I think a good amount of them have interest in coming over here. You don’t really know who or exactly at what time they’re thinking that, but I think of a guy like Patrick Vieira, who’s played for France and played for some of the bigger teams around the world. In a time where we could use a big-time guy sitting in front of the back four making plays, there’s not too many in recent history better than him. I think there’s more than enough guys out there, capable, who would love to come to the U.S. and enjoy what the U.S. has to offer and play some football while they’re here.