Season Preview - San Jose Earthquakes

For obvious reasons, last year, the San Jose Earthquakes were of special interest to Sounders fans. As the expansion club in 2008, the Quakes were an example of what Seattle will go through this year. We can only hope that there will not be similarities in the points column.

As most expansion clubs do, the Quakes struggled. And I’ve written a lot about their struggles. The main point is that they had very little scoring options for much of the season. After picking up British winger Darren Huckerby, their attack was rejuvenated. (Perhaps just ‘juvinated’?) San Jose found more success toward the end of the season, getting themselves back into a tie for last place with Los Angeles while staying in the playoff hunt longer than most thought possible.

Apparently the Quakes are thinking this success will continue, because they made few changes to their roster. The only major ones were signing target forward Cam Weaver, who was a standout for the USL Sounders a few years ago and had most recently been playing in Norway, and the acquisition of former USA nat Bobby Convey. Arguably their most important move was re-signing keeper Joe Cannon, who had a stellar 2008. The rest of the moves were mostly effective-looking shoring up of squad depth. They did lose starters Francisco Lima and James Riley, the latter of whom is now one of Seattle’s best defenders.

Even without Riley, the defense – San Jose’s strength last year – still looks solid. Jason Hernandez remains one of the best one players nobody has heard of. The midfield is solid as well, with Convey, the ever-dangerous Huckerby and Ramiro Corrales. Cannon is a quality presence in goal. Forward is still the question. Arturo Alvarez might play up top, but that would probably relegate Jamaican Ryan Johnson to the bench, and he’s starter quality. On the other hand, Johnson and Weaver are both big banger-type players, and I’m not sure if they’ll work well together.

I’ll just say it right now – I think San Jose can make the playoffs. Not sure if they will, but the talent is there. The nucleus in defense and goal remains, which is what coach Frank Yallop wanted. His team construction is a multi-year process, and I think it’ll pay off this year. Adding Convey is a bit of a gamble – they want him to play attacking mid, which is not his natural position. If he gets his form back, expect San Jose to seriously compete for a spot in the postseason.

1 comment:

Daniel L said...

Thanks for the articles. I look forward to the next one.