The early season hasn't been kind to the Earthquakes, something they're looking to change this weekend against Philadelphia.
After a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of New York and a disappointing home loss to a Chivas USA side sitting below San Jose in the standings, things have come apart just a little. Head coach Frank Yallop lamented the team’s lack of fight after the Chivas USA result, while the following Monday saw a players only meeting to confront some of the issues facing the team.
With a difficult trip away to Philadelphia, Yallop once more emphasized the importance of hard work and fight, two virtues shown in abundance by the team that reached the 2010 Eastern Conference final, but have not been as apparent in recent weeks.
“We’ve got to knuckle down, get ready to play an away game and get a result, so nothing changes from our preparation thoughts,” Yallop explained. “Philadelphia are a good team and we’ve got to make sure we’re ready to play that game and we’re ready to fight and scrap.”
While he did not make the direct comparison between Philadelphia and San Jose, Yallop saw in the Union many of the qualities he has been looking for in his side. He pointed out, “What they’ve done, they’ve knuckled down, they’ve got more organized, they’ve got down to really defending well and making it difficult for teams and scoring goals when they need to.”
Despite the team’s struggles against Chivas USA, there were a couple bright spots, including the energetic play of rookie Anthony Ampaipitakwong. After replacing Khari Stephenson in the 55th minute, Ampaipitakwong slotted in on the right side and provided some buzz in the Earthquakes’ midfield.
“I felt great. I’m disappointed that we got the loss and gave up a goal, and we didn’t get any points at home,” he said. “From my perspective I felt good coming off the bench, I felt like I gave some energy to the team, but I wish I could just contribute a little more to help to get a goal, get one back, and help to get a tie or even better a win.”
With Yallop threatening changes after the Chivas USA result, Ampaipitakwong could very well be in line for more playing time, which Yallop confirmed on Wednesday.
“He’s ready to go,” Yallop said. “There will be a few new faces I would think on Saturday, just to have a look at it and we have some big games coming up.”
After facing Philadelphia, the Earthquakes will travel to face the Portland Timbers in a midweek U.S. Open Cup qualification match. San Jose has not progressed past the qualification rounds since its return to MLS in 2008, but will be looking to break that trend, with the San Jose manager looking to create some momentum out of a possible victory.
“We have a big game in Philly to start with, we’ve got Open Cup on Tuesday, following Wednesday we’re at Vancouver, so we’ve got some results to grind out here. Hopefully we can start on Saturday.”
You can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter for more Earthquakes and MLS chatter @nicholasrosano.
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