The New York Red Bulls take on the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday in a playoff match-up that may not be as one-sided as some people might think.
The Right Coasters may have galloped their way to first place in the East, but questions persist about their midfield and prized recruit Thierry Henry hasn’t been an automatic on the team sheet for the better part of a month.
They’ll head to the Left Coast to play a San Jose Earthquakes team that’s got the look of a spoiler.
The Earthquakes beat their chests with a veteran keeper in Jon Busch, a scalding hot shark of a striker in Chris Wondolowski who’s driving home freaking laser beams, an underrated pairing of former MLS cast-offs in Khari Stephenson and Sam Cronin manning the middle, and a U.S. World Cup veteran at leftback who started for the Yanks in arguably one of their most impressive performances ever, Italy 2006.
That defender’s name is Bobby Convey and he joined us last week to discuss playing in San Jose and his incredulousness at continuing to be left off the U.S. Men’s National Team.
TSG: Heading into the playoffs–you guys have two games left–looks like you’re going to face the New York Red Bulls. What’s going to be the difference in a potential series with Henry, Inc.?
Bobby Convey: Any team we play against in the playoffs is going to be a strong team.
The main thing for us is to get a good result in Game 1 since we’ll play the first one at home, and then to try and win it on the road.
TSG: Is there any more animosity in facing the Red Bulls? In the first game this year, you received a hard foul which resulted in a red card and ten men for New York. You guys won that one, I believe it was 3-0. In the second game–role reversal–you got a questionable yellow and New York ran away with it.
More animosity in facing them?
Convey: No. They’ve obviously added a bunch of players since we beat them. The first game we played well, the second game they played well and came out on top.
I don’t think it’s more of a rivalry. I think for me, it was an awful call by the referees–you can watch the replays.
Going into the playoffs though, the games are harder, there’s more tackling, there’s more physical play and hopefully the referees can get it right this time.
TSG: Okay…how far can you guys go in the playoffs?
Convey: Well anything can happen. And then it’s about who’s on form.
Injuries come into play and who’s on form. It really depends who’s up for it on the day.
TSG: Who’s the MVP of the Earthquakes this year: you’ve got Busch who’s been a difference maker, Wondo who is on fire, and you’ve covered at leftback and still provided assists. Who’s the most integral?
Convey: For myself, I’m just happy that I played well all season and really contributed.
For me, I just try to look at myself and my objective for me is to create as many chances for others as possible. As a wide player that’s what you look to do.
It was frustrating to move to leftback…I can’t really create too much from there. It’s more defending obviously. For me, I’m just happy how the season’s gone.
And as a team I’m happy we’ve all done well. As you said, Wondo has scored some goals as of late and you know that definitely helps, but I don’t think we’re a one-man show.
Everyone has to play well for us to do well.
TSG: How do you rate your game now? As you’ve said, you moved to leftback; it’s been frustrating and doesn’t sound like it’s a role you relish. Where is your game and career at?
Convey: I feel good. I was able to workout in the offseason. It was the first offseason I really had in five years since I was in England where you don’t really get an offseason.
I was able to hang out with my family for the first time for the holiday season in a long time and really just get away and rest.
And then workout at home with my trainer a couple of times a day for a month or so, and I feel came into the seasons feeling really well.
MLS is one of those leagues where one season you can do really well and one season you maybe don’t do as well.
TSG: So talk more about the league–MLS–where do you rate the league right now quality-wise versus the Championship and Premiership in England from your experience playing in both?