The “Sophomore Slump”, a phrase commonly labeled to professional athletes entering their second season, may not be aptly used to characterize the Quakes’ second-year professionals.
If Justin Morrow and Steven Beitashour have been any indication of the Quakes’ coaching staff’s focus on player development, sophomore teammates Cesar Diaz Pizarro, Jacob Hustedt, and Sam Garza should be eagerly awaiting the 2013 season.
Diaz Pizarro, Hustedt, and Garza had to transition to the pace and intensity of the MLS after decorated collegiate careers. Yet, Diaz Pizarro and Hustedt were unable to parlay their collegiate success into the MLS after being inhibited by lasting injuries.
“This season, my expectations are to stay injury free. I worked hard in the offseason to maintain fitness. If I can’t earn a starting spot, I want to work hard to get on the bench,” said Hustedt.
The 5-foot-9, 175 pound former Washington midfielder, did not see any action outside of the Reserve League for Quakes in 2012 due to injuries. Hustedt was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team for his efforts in 2011 after three stellar years at Cal Poly.
“We hope to keep the Supporters’ Shield and make it to the [MLS Cup] playoffs. We all had a bitter taste from last year on the early playoff exit,” said Hustedt. “From a personal standpoint, I want to be an integral part of the team that achieves those goals.”
Diaz Pizarro also found seldom minutes in his first year similarly due to injury. The former UC Riverside target forward hit a record 20 goals during his time as a Highlander. He required off-season surgery in November to heal a knee injury and is aiming to increase his contributions in 2013.
“My rookie year was full of great memories. The team did great. Unfortunately, I was injured but being around these guys was an amazing experience that I will never forget,” said Diaz Pizarro.
Having had to spend the offseason rehabbing his knee, Pizarro preserved an optimistic outlook for the upcoming season.
“First and foremost, I want to improve my health. I just got my knee done. I hope we can do what we did last year in the offseason,” said Pizarro.
The Quakes open their 2013 campaign against the 2009 MLS Cup Champions, Real Salt Lake, on Sunday, March 3. Diaz Pizarro, Hustedt, and the rest of San Jose will be ready to take Buck Shaw Stadium by storm once again.