The San Jose Earthquakes are going nowhere fast. And that helps explain why they added forward Cornell Glen to the roster this week.
"I bring something different to the Quakes with my speed," Glen said. "The forwards they've had here are not that fast. But they hold the ball very well and are talented skill-wise. They can really serve the ball well. So I can help stretch the defenses a bit for them."
His home debut should come tonight at Buck Shaw Stadium in a game against Real Salt Lake that has a must-win quality for the Earthquakes (1-7-2). They are riding a five-game losing streak, have the league's fewest points (five) and their minus-11 goal differential is the worst in MLS.
With the season in danger of slipping away, the Earthquakes invited Glen to San Jose nearly three weeks ago to train with the team while he waited for visa issues to be settled. When that finally happened, he played 22 minutes as a substitute in the 2-1 loss Wednesday at Columbus.
"It has been very difficult watching games," he said, "This is a team I knew I was going to be part of, and we haven't been winning. I'm so glad that's over. Now I can try to help the team move up the table."
The reason why the Earthquakes zeroed in on Glen is because Frank Yallop coached him previously when they were in Los Angeles.
"Frank liked him and he's something that we need," said John Doyle, the Earthquakes general manager. "He's a good finisher. This also is a second chance for him in the MLS. I think that will go a long way because he really wants to prove himself."
Glen, 28, has scored 22 goals in 55 appearances for his national team and had a strong performance in the 2006 World Cup. But his record was mixed in a previous tour through MLS when he was with five teams over the course of three seasons from 2004 to 2006.
His most memorable game came against the old Earthquakes at Spartan Stadium in 2004. In his first MLS start with the MetroStars, Glen scored two goals and added an assist in a wild 5-5 tie. His second goal was the equalizer in the closing minutes when he deflected a shot off his right heel.
"That was one of the great games in MLS history," Glen said. "It was just a once-in-a-lifetime event. I think that was one of the best goals in my career."
But Glen couldn't fulfill the early promise he showed. Injuries played a role. But he also hints at a lack of maturity during his first pass through the league.
"You get wiser with time," said Glen, who has 12 goals and six assists in 46 MLS games. "When you're young, there are some things you do that you come to regret years later. For instance, I've learned the importance of staying fit. I know I'm a good player who can score goals, but I have to be on the field."
Part of it, Doyle believes, was the culture shock coming from a small Caribbean nation to the U.S.
"Sometimes players from the islands come over and they're a little surprised by everything," he said. "It's not the soccer, but everything else."
Doyle stressed that Glen, who will miss next weekend's game against FC Dallas because of national team commitments, isn't expected to be a savior — just a piece to the puzzle.
The Earthquakes clearly are reeling in every facet of the game. It hasn't helped that they continue to be without star English attacking midfielder Darren Huckerby (strained quadriceps muscle). But their defense arguably has been worse than the offense.
"We're still looking for players," added Doyle, who recently was scouting in Costa Rica and has a trip to Brazil planned. "We definitely have to improve. So far this season hasn't gone the way we would have liked, that's for sure."
Glen hopes he can be part of the solution.
"I can help this team a lot," he said.