Thursday, June 14, 2012

Key Shine players carrying injuries into critical Seattle road trip

After this weekend’s road trip to western Washington, the season is already half-over for the Spokane Shine. That is what head coach Jason Quintero told his players at the conclusion of Wednesday evening’s training session. And it is not just any road trip. The two-game swing will see the Shine face arguably their toughest competition for the division’s sole playoff berth on consecutive nights with a squad banged up in all the wrong places.

On Friday evening, the Shine face first-place Issaquah SC (2-0-1), whom they played to a 1-1 draw at Joe Albi Stadium last Friday. They then play Emerald City FC (1-0-1) Saturday afternoon.

“We got some injuries that are bugging us. Tactically it’s not gonna change what we are going to try to do, coming out in a 4-2-3-1. But the personnel within that [formation] might be just a little bit different,” Quintero said. “We are gonna see how people are tomorrow night after getting some treatment in the afternoon and kinda go from there.”

In last week’s draw against Issaquah, Quintero praised the play of Scottish youth international Lisa Robertson for gutting out a hamstring injury in a strong performance that may have proven costly heading into this week.

Alyshia Madison (L) battles through injury
“[Robertson] is gonna travel and see how it goes. We are being overcautious with her right now because she’s got a hamstring-quad injury going on. Darci Smith’s got the same thing going on. Alyshia Madison’s been fighting hers – so, some pretty important players. [Tseng] Shu-O’s got an ankle that’s bugging her. Right now, they are all traveling except for Darci. Darci might be out for about two weeks at the minimum.

“It is a ‘we’ll see how they wake up on Friday’ type of thing. It might even be a situation where they travel on Friday and don’t play Friday, but maybe they are ready to go Saturday afternoon. Especially with their injuries, I don’t know if they can play 180 minutes. But, maybe we can put them in for a strategic 60 in one game or the other.”

Incorporating the club’s best players over the weekend may be critical considering the competition and stakes.

Though the season is only a few weeks old, the clubs north of the Columbia River appear to be the stronger contenders for the division title with Issaquah and Emerald City both shutting out Eugene Metro FC, which took a 3-2 decision against state rival and winless Oregon Rush Wednesday evening to jump past the Spokane Shine and Emerald City FC into second place in the WPSL NW Division at 2-2-0. The pair also posted positive results against the Portland Rain.

Quintero agreed with the assessment, but offered the usual qualifier. “Looking at it on paper, it looks like the Washington clubs are maybe a little bit stronger. But playing games on paper obviously is impossible.” 

“No disrespect to the Oregon clubs but this weekend is pretty big for us. If we come out of there with six points it will be a whole lot different last part of the season compared to if we come out of there with zero points. I think if we come back with four points, I’d be okay... I’d be content. But if we come back with six points, I would be happy; and I’d like to see what we could do after that. Four points and we are definitely still in it. I think if we come back with anything less, we might be in a little bit of trouble.”

Trailing division leader Issaquah by three points, Spokane is in position to come out of the weekend potentially in pole position by three points, depending also on Eugene’s result against Portland Friday evening. All six points, though, would guarantee first place with a schedule for the second half of the season featuring four games at home out of five.

Spokane Shine photos [+]
Quintero is heading into the weekend not looking to change much from last week’s draw, aside from what is dictated by the injuries, as he was pleased with the overall performance against Issaquah. Well, all except for the finishing.

“You saw today’s practice. The name of the game was finishing,” he pointed out. “Any time you get over 20 shots against a team, you should score more than one goal, and we had trouble doing that. The good news is we’re in the top of the division for scoring, the bad news is we’re in the bottom of the division for goals against.

“So it’s a combination of we not only need to score, but we need to score when it’s important. Putting up five goals against [Oregon Rush] was ok, but I would rather see us in games like Issaquah where we’re having 25 shots, put in two or three goals.”

The second half of the trip will be another venture into the unknown against another first-year team, though Emerald City is an established youth club. 

“I have seen their roster. I know where their players are from and what kind of standard they are gonna be representing, but you never know in this league because they are listing this [big] roster and you never know which ones are gonna be there. You have to respect the fact that they’ve done well so far to date and we’ll see what kind of squad they have – kind of an unknown.”

Unfortunately, Quintero can expect the ECFC staff, led by former six-year College of Idaho coach Niki Taylor, to make the short trek to Issaquah to familiarize themselves with the Shine. 

INW Ties Among the Opposition

With former College of Idaho coach Niki Taylor at the helm, it is no surprise there are a couple players from the school in Taylor Culver (Nampa, ID) and Jessica Ayala. A third player from Idaho is Boise State goalkeeper Liz Ruiz (Boise, ID). All three have played this season. The team also features a pair of players from Eastern Washington University with Katelyn Cashman (Granite Falls, WA) and Mily Reiter (Billings, MT).

The players comprising Issaquah’s roster are much more local in flavor, hailing from the Puget Sound region. Among the few coming in from the outside are Shawna Anderson (Seattle University) of Pasco, Wash. and Lindsey Field (Northwest University) of Ontario, Ore.