Quakes can count on their goalie
WITH FOOT INJURY BEHIND HIM, CANNON HAS BEEN OUTSTANDING
Article Launched: 07/05/2008 01:35:15 AM PDT
As if last month’s 3-0 drubbing against the Los Angeles Galaxy wasn’t enough, a painful needle awaited Earthquakes goalie Joe Cannon afterward.
Cannon needed a shot of cortisone to calm a foot that ached so much he could barely walk, much less launch his body in front of mach-speed soccer balls.
“The heel was just killing me,” he said. “For the longest time we didn’t know what was going on.”
Cannon, 33, suffered from plantar fasciitis that hampered his play until recently. The previously undisclosed condition flared up while Cannon was playing on artificial turf in April, he said.
The inflammation has subsided since the injection. Cannon has begun showing the kind of mobility the Quakes need to start winning games.
As San Jose reaches the season’s midway point tonight at Chivas USA, it hopes for a strong turnaround with 10 of its final 15 Major League Soccer matches at home. Although the first half has been a tale of missed scoring opportunities, having a healthy keeper brightens the team’s prospects.
Since addressing the injury, Cannon has shut out two of the Quakes’ past three opponents. With five shutouts this season, he needs just one more to tie Tony Meola for second place on MLS’s all-time list.
Against the Chicago Fire last week, Cannon made two spectacular plays late in the second half to preserve a 0-0 tie.
He stopped Chicago’s Justin Mapp in the 71st minute after Quakes forward John Cunliffe blocked Cannon’s line of sight. Mapp blasted a shot from just outside the penalty box, but Cannon punched the ball over the crossbar. “It was a last-minute reaction,” Cannon said. “I never got a feel for where to position myself. It came out of nowhere.”
Four minutes later Cannon faced a potential game-winner by Chris Rolfe, who found himself alone inside the box after a defensive breakdown. Rolfe went for the far post away from Cannon, who knocked the shot away.
“I read it pretty well,” said Cannon, who also had two saves in the game’s first 10 minutes.
The effort gave Cannon confidence a week after the Earthquakes lost to D.C. United 3-1.
Which begs the question: When is San Jose going to earn points in consecutive matches?
“The problem with our team is we can’t find the back of the net,” Cannon said.
It has been a constant refrain this inaugural season. The last-place team has looked cohesive at times on offense but can’t seem to punch in a goal. The Quakes have been held scoreless eight times. It happened against Chicago when Ramiro Corrales hit the crossbar in the 51st minute and Shea Salinas hit the far post in the 86th minute.
“When we don’t score, the pressure keeps mounting,” Cannon added. “A goal is just a huge relief. You’ve got some room to make some mistakes.”
Fortunately for the light-scoring Quakes, mistakes haven’t been part of Cannon’s recent repertoire.
• Buoyed by their recent play, the Earthquakes are looking for a victory tonight. But it won’t be easy because Chivas USA’s “possession game is probably second to none,” Cannon said. “For us, it is a matter of matching their energy and dealing with what they can bring to the table.”
Quakes Coach Frank Yallop said the players “are starting to buy into each other. They are a tight group. Even after Los Angeles they came back scrapping. If we get a good result today, it will set us up nicely.”
The Quakes’ goal is to finish among the top three in the Western Division to reach the MLS playoffs.
“All of it is in our hands,” Yallop said.