SAN JOSE -- Earthquakes rookie Adam Jahn wears No. 14 to pay tribute to Thierry Henry of the New York Red Bulls. Jahn, who grew up near Davis, idolized Henry when he was a goal-scoring machine for Arsenal of the English Premier League.
But the rookie out of Stanford wasn't intimidated to play on the same field with Henry last weekend in leading the Quakes to a 2-1 victory over New York.
"He wasn't afraid, mentally," coach Frank Yallop said. "And that's important. As a player, he's good enough. It's the mental side of the game where, can you play free of any thoughts of negative stuff? We just said to him, 'Go in there and make a difference.' And he certainly did that."
Said Jahn: "Frank always encourages us to not play afraid and try new things. You don't feel restricted in any way."
Jahn, 22, could find himself starting Saturday against the Columbus Crew if veteran Mike Fucito can't go because of a foot injury. Depending on the flow of the game Jahn probably will appear for the third consecutive week.
"It's one game ... but we've seen enough in preseason (to know) that he can play the position," Yallop said. "I didn't think he was ready to always be the man, to start, because it's tough. You never know how he's going to handle things."
Jahn, though, has spent his life preparing for such situations. He played the role of sweeper -- the last line of defense -- on youth teams. His parents didn't know anything about soccer
Jahn always had a foot on the ball, his father recalled. He played on three or four youth teams at a time. "It got to be too much," Tom Jahn said.
But it also led to better competition. After mastering other parts of the field Jahn became a forward at Jesuit High-Carmichael because the coach thought the teen could attract college recruiters.
"He has the ability to keep learning and become a very good professional soccer player," Stanford coach Jeremy Gunn said.
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.