Things look a bit brighter for the Earthquakes as they head into Sunday's road game against the Philadelphia Union.
An encouraging 1-1 midweek draw against the Seattle Sounders featured a polished effort from 19-year-old midfielder Tommy Thompson, in his first MLS start.
The eighth-place Quakes (6-9-7, 25 points) needed a pick-me-up after a disastrous 5-0 home loss to FC Dallas, and the bouncy Thompson delivered. He created scoring chances, repeatedly found the ball and nearly popped one or two in.
Quakes fans had been clamoring for another Thompson showcase after the playmaker sizzled against Atletico Madrid on July 27. Seattle represented a big stage, and Thompson looked at ease standing on it.
"He's looked good," coach Mark Watson said. "He's still raw. He still has things to learn, but I felt Tommy was very good. He had a good understanding of what was going on. You could see his ability, and you could also see his feeling for the game."
The Quakes desperately need three points against the Union (6-9-9, 27 points), which has struggled at home with just three wins in 10 tries. San Jose sits eight points out of the final Western Conference playoff spot.
On the injury front, center back Victor Bernardez, recovering from a broken nose, is listed as probable after suffering an ankle injury in the 80th minute in Seattle.
"He's still sore, but he's working with our medical staff and it's starting to ease off a little bit," Watson said of Bernardez's injury. "We'll treat him again (Saturday) and see how he's moving."
For others, the news is not so promising. Midfielder Yannick Djalo (right quad strain) did not make the trip to Philadelphia. Newcomer Matias Perez Garcia had surgery Wednesday after suffering a torn meniscus and is expected to miss four to six weeks.
Thompson has developed a nice rapport with forward Chris Wondolowski, who scored his ninth goal of the season against Seattle, giving him 81 since the beginning of the 2010 campaign.
"He's a great guy to have with you up top, and I thought that showed in (Wednesday's) game," Thompson said.
Interim Philadelphia coach Jim Curtin thinks his team could have an advantage Sunday, with the Quakes traveling cross-country.
"That's a long way to go," Curtin told MLSsoccer.com. "We'll have to jump on them early. We'll have fresh legs."
Earthquakes (6-9-7) at Philadelphia (6-9-9), 5 p.m. CSNBA