MONTCLAIR, N.J. – It’s been nearly two full months since the San Jose Earthquakes celebrated a goal by someone other than Chris Wondolowski.
The stretch dates back to Sept. 5, when Geovanni opened his MLS account by blistering a loose ball past Houston goalkeeper Pat Onstad.
If the Quakes are going to continue playing beyond Thursday night, it may be up to the Brazilian to deliver again.
Leading 1-0 on aggregate, the New York Red Bulls are unlikely to let Wondolowski, the MLS 2010 Golden Boot winner, out of their sight as they try to finish off an Eastern Conference semifinal victory (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes). So where would a Quakes goal come from, if not the man who’s found the net 18 times this year?
Both teams agree the most obvious candidate is Geovanni. And logic squares with that assessment as well: This is exactly the kind of game where you need your franchise’s first Designated Player to shine.
“If I have an opportunity,” Geovanni told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday through a translator, “I have to take advantage of it.”
[inline_node:322141]Though this is Geovanni’s first tour through the MLS playoffs, his résumé of pressure situations is unmatched among the Quakes. For example, nobody else on the team has scored a goal that knocked Manchester United out of the UEFA Champions League, as Geovanni did in 2005 when he was with Benfica.
“I love big games,” Geovanni said. “In my career, I’ve always done well in them. I’ve always had good success, either scoring goals or us winning the games. I hope [Thursday] is another great game for the history of this team.”
Head coach Frank Yallop has faith that Geovanni can make that happen, even if he hasn’t found the net since that wicked strike against the Dynamo and hasn’t been taking over games single-handedly as some might have hoped when the Quakes brought him over from the English Premier League.
“I think he’s got to influence the game more, for sure,” Yallop said. “It’s no good being just part of the team. If you’re the special player, then we’ve got to really see that. We’ve seen signs of it, but not on a consistent basis.
“It’s in him. He can do it. It’s just a matter of going out and doing it.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes