The San Jose Earthquakes have dealt with injury problems all season long, and unfortunately, that won’t change ahead of Saturday’s Eastern Conference Championship at Colorado (9:30 p.m. ET, FSC).
The injury bug has set its sights firmly on the Quakes back line for the most important game of their season. Head coach Frank Yallop reiterated on Wednesday that it’s likely captain Ramiro Corrales will miss the match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park with a right hamstring strain he suffered in last weekend’s win at New York. Yallop said he hasn't seen enough progress from the veteran defender to make him believe he'll be ready by Saturday.
Also coming up slightly lame is center back Jason Hernandez, who tweaked his calf ahead of that game but is hoping to be ready for the Rapids.
“Ramiro’s worse than Jason,” Yallop said. “Jason kind of tweaked his calf a little bit in the warm-up and played the game, so that was really a good sign, but he’s pretty sore now. We’ll see how he goes. He’s going to run tomorrow and start working out. Hopefully the rest is enough for him to be ready to play. I want to see if Jason is healthy first and then make a decision.”
[inline_node:304479]Luckily, San Jose have depth in defense. Normally a right back, midseason acquisition Tim Ward has been solid when switched over to the left while Corrales missed 10 games out of the lineup with a knee injury earlier this season. Yallop brought veteran Chris Leitch into the lineup at right back to fill that void.
Similarly, with Hernandez missing time this past season with injury, as well as a season-ending broken foot to rookie Ike Opara, Yallop has been able to shuffle central midfielder Brandon McDonald and backup center back Bobby Burling into central defense without any drop in quality.
“I’m confident in those guys,” Yallop said of Leitch and Burling. “They’ve gotten results for us and nothing changes from that."
As far as the rest of the lineup, Yallop won’t shed much light on his starting 11 in Colorado, but did say he was pleased with the front six he fielded at New York – Sam Cronin and Scott Sealy in the middle, Chris Wondolowski and Bobby Convey on the wings, and Ryan Johnson and Geovanni up top.
It’s a good bet Yallop will stick with that starting sextet in Colorado against a side with which he believes San Jose match up well.
The Quakes depart for Denver on Thursday after a morning training session. Yallop says he'll run the team through a final light practice in Colorado on Friday.
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