Dutch striker Danny Hoesen has been a consistent presence for San Jose since joining in 2017, missing just two matches to date and earning the club’s MVP award last season. However, he entered last Saturday with roughly the equivalent of one match worth of minutes after four weeks.
Despite his lack of playing time early in the season, Hoesen remained optimistic based on his upbeat conversations with head coach Matias Almeyda.
“I’ve been talking with him quite a bit,” said Hoesen before training on Monday. “I knew he had confidence in me, but he gave a chance to other players the first few games and now it was my chance.
“I was confident because I had been training well. I told my wife before the game, ‘I’m just going to run and do my thing, and if it’s 60 minutes, it’s 60. If it’s 70, it’s 70.’ I think you saw the last 20 minutes, my energy was dropping. That’s normal. Matias kept me on and it was no problem. The only thing was recovering after a sprint took a little bit longer than normal but that will come.”
Hoesen has had a challenging start to 2019. After working into tip-top shape during a strenuous preseason in Mexico, he spent a lot of time in the Netherlands pursuing a U.S. Green Card to help improve the Quakes’ roster flexibility.
“It was tough. Long flights are always tough. I was there in the hotel in Amsterdam with my family, which was also difficult because you train by yourself but it’s not the same as when you train with the team. I had to get used to time differences and jet lag and everything. It was a shame because we worked so hard in Mexico, and when you fly so much, you lose a little bit. I’m just happy it’s finally done.”
When he finally returned to the States, he had to battle for playing time in a system that utilizes one central striker.
“It’s motivating, but it’s also frustrating because when you’re on the field, you can help your teammates. We were trailing in all four games when I came in, so the defense tends to sit back a little. But I was definitely motivated because I knew my chance would come.”
Hoesen scored one goal and was heavily involved throughout the match, outrunning Portland’s defenders and getting behind the backline on a regular basis. Only Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, who racked up 10 saves, prevented him from tallying a second or even a third on Saturday.
“Danny and everybody else knows that when I put them in their position, I’m giving them a responsibility and a gift to be able to play a game.,” said Almeyda during the postgame press conference. “They have to take advantage of it. He did take advantage of it today. If he was perhaps sharper, he could have scored three more goals easily.”
Despite the opportunities that went unfinished, Hoesen believes the best is still to come.
“Of course, it will come with time,” explained the 28-year-old forward. “I always say that you shouldn’t worry about missed chances, you should be happy that you created them.”