SAN JOSE, Calif. — Of all the numbers Simon Dawkins has put up in his first MLS season – which has seen him notch four goals and an assist – the one that matters most is 1,421.
That’s how many minutes Dawkins has logged in 22 appearances. And while it’s not quite to the level of ironman Jon Busch – the Quakes 'keeper who’s played all 2,700 minutes this year – or even Chris Wondolowski, who leads San Jose field players with 2,312 minutes, it’s still a huge deal for a 23-year-old who had his professional career derailed by a spate of injuries stretching over several seasons.
“It’s been a good season, thanks to Frank [Yallop, San Jose’s coach], he’s played me a lot,” Dawkins told MLSsoccer.com. “I haven’t had the chance to [play extensively] for a good four years because of injuries. It’s finally good to get my career going. I’m just happy to finally get games.”
The Quakes, who were able to get Dawkins in March on a season-long loan from club partner Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League, have been happy as well, particularly with Dawkins’ offensive capabilities. His ballskills are some of the best on the club, and his ability to play off of target man Steven Lenhart was one of the big reasons both players flourished in the first half of this year.
Dawkins, who is expected to make his sixth consecutive start Saturday against Sporting Kansas City (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), has gone the full 90 minutes in three of San Jose’s last four matches and clocked 83 minutes in the other. He’s had to do so on the left wing, having been moved from a more central position earlier this month to accommodate the ascendancy of fellow MLS rookie Rafael Baca.
“I think that Simon is a very good footballer, so he finds his space, he finds his positions,” Yallop told MLSsoccer.com. “He can score goals from that spot. He can do well there. He’s been dangerous. That’s the thing that you want from the wide positions and your front players: Are they dangerous and do they have good movement? And I think he’s shown both.”
Left wing is not totally unknown territory to Dawkins - he played there on youth sides - but he’s been brushing up his game by watching tape of Manchester City’s Samir Nasri, another right-footed central midfielder by nature who moved wide left during his time at Arsenal.
“I just saw a few videos of him playing out there to see what I can do, get a feeling for the game out there,” Dawkins said. “He plays it really well.”
Keeping Dawkins is high on the Quakes’ list of offseason desires, although the situation is made more complicated by the fact that he’s under contract with Tottenham through June 2013.
Dawkins said that he’s happy to return for another season in San Jose but still eyes his ultimate prize: a spot on the senior roster with Spurs, the organization that originally signed him as a teenager.
“That’s somewhere where I’d like to play,” Dawkins said. “And if it does happen, it’d be a dream come true. But if it doesn’t, there’s other teams around the world.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. On Twitter: @sjquakes