Victor Bernardez (#5) is key performer for both the San Jose Earthquakes and Honduras. (Photo: Mexsport)
SAN JOSE, California -- The San Jose Earthquakes were a defensive tour de force over the last half of the 2013 MLS season, and a major reason for that was the steely play of center back Victor Bernardez. Over their last 14 games, the Quakes, with the big Honduran captaining the back four, conceded a league-low 10 goals.
Since his arrival in San Jose at the start of the 2012 season, Bernardez has been a favorite of Earthquakes supporters as his trademark intensity on the field energized sell-out crowds at Buck Shaw Stadium. His defensive prowess for the Quakes is so influential that over two years the team has lost only twice in 34 home games.
“He has been fantastic for us,” said head coach Mark Watson. “He knows the position well and we trust him to make the right decisions. He is a very important part of our defense.”
But it is not just for club that Bernardez excels: For the past decade, the center back has been a regular call-up to the Honduras national team and featured prominently in its successful qualifying campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He made one appearance at the last World Cup, but very well could start at center back for the Catrachos in Brazil.
The 31-year old will have a busy year ahead of him with commitments to both the Earthquakes and Honduras. In the next week alone, Bernardez will return home for a March 5 friendly against Venezuela and then make the trip back north for San Jose’s CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) quarterfinal series opener against Toluca six days later. The balancing act will continue throughout the spring in the lead up to the World Cup.
His status as the rock of San Jose’s defense will be put to the test in the CCL, since center-back partner Clarence Goodson -- a United States international – is suspended for the first game against the Red Devils. Fortunately for Bernardez and the rest of the Quakes defense, Goodson will be in the line-up for the return leg in Mexico.
“Victor has played in some big games,” said Watson, “and we are confident he will show us that. He is not easily intimidated.”
Bernardez, however, is not all about defense, as the 6’1” Honduran also plays a major part in the Earthquakes set-piece strategy. Over the past two seasons, Bernardez has scored four times for San Jose, including a memorable goal against rival LA Galaxy in the 2012 MLS Cup playoffs. Whether he is on the receiving end of a corner kick whipped into the box or menacingly stutter-stepping up to a free kick attempt, Bernardez is an indomitable force when he comes forward.
Champions League, World Cup, and MLS regular season: Bernardez is prepared to give his all for club and country in 2014.