San Jose Offseason Hitting Full Swing

Manager Frank Yallop prepares for the upcoming season
by Luke James   |   Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Match of the Bay - column on San Jose Earthquakes & the San Francisco Bay Area soccer scene

Anticipation is building among fan groups around the nation as the new MLS season approaches. But for head coaches, the anticipation also comes with critical choices, headaches and no small degree of concern.

The team choice – finding and maintaining the special kind of team balance that won the San Jose Earthquakes last year’s Supporters' Shield – has to be one of manager Frank Yallop’s main concerns. With the addition of 6 draft picks and 2 signings, the mix has changed.

San Jose added depth, skill and work rate in th MLS SuperDraft with the newest additions of No. 15 overall pick and Georgetown central defender Tommy Muller, No. 33 overall pick and University of San Diego midfielder Dan Delgado and former Portland Timbers’ left-footed forward Michael Fucito.

In last week’s MLS Supplemental Draft, the Quakes took three players with California ties: Stanford forward Adam Jahn (No. 15 overall), San Francisco native and Oregon State defender Colin Mitchell (No. 53 overall) and UC Santa Barbara defender Peter McGlynn (No. 72 overall).

The club signed defenders Ty Harden and Dan Gargan as well.

Gargan, 30, is a 7-year MLS veteran who spent his last 2 seasons as a member of the Chicago Fire. The right back has 2 goals and 8 assists in 123 career appearances, with the Colorado Rapids (2005-08), Chivas USA (2008), Toronto FC (2010-11) and Chicago Fire (2011-12).

He was also a regular starter for the Fire and helped the club reach the playoffs in 2012 as well as the 2011 U.S. Open Cup Final. The former All-Big East selection was a co-captain for the Georgetown Hoyas in college.

Harden, 28, is a 5-year MLS veteran who spent his last three years with Toronto FC. The 6’1’’ center back has 74 appearances and 64 starts during his career. Ironically, Harden was drafted to play for the LA Galaxy in 2007 when Yallop was at the helm.

Harden started 24 games during his first season in LA. He took a year off from soccer, returning in 2009 as a member of the Colorado Rapids before joining Toronto FC in 2010. In college, Harden captained the Washington Huskies.

Headaches for Yallop

One of Yallop’s issues this offseason is that defender Steven Beitashour was forced to leave the U.S. Men’s National Team's training camp in Carson, Calif., because of injury. Beitashour is still struggling to recover full fitness following surgery after last season to repair a sports hernia.

And then there’s still no word from EPL team Tottenham Hotspur, who holds the contract of one of last season’s key Earthquakes players, Simon Dawkins. With training camp under way, San Jose still don’t know if one of its important players will be back in uniform.

In the 25-year-old Englishman’s two seasons on loan from Spurs to San Jose, he scored 14 goals and made 3 assists in 55 games.

The Quakes have made an offer to Spurs to make Dawkins’ transfer permanent, but so far haven’t received an answer.

“We’ve made a strong offer for Simon and we’re waiting for them to let us know if it’s acceptable or not acceptable,” San Jose General Manager John Doyle told reporters this week. “We’d like to have him, but it’s really not in our hands.”

Yallop also has to be concerned about current and imminent international duties for several of his players. Striker Chris Wondolowski played the whole first half in USA’s lackluster 0-0 draw with Canada before being subbed at halftime for Josh Gaff. Justin Morrow played the whole game in defense too.

Thankfully, neither player picked up any reported injuries. But in the next round of World Cup Qualifying when the USMNT faces Honduras at San Pedro Sula on Feb. 6, Wondo, if he was plays, will almost certainly find himself running at his teammate and wall of defensive muscle, Victor Berdnardez.

There’s some great news between the posts, though, as Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch has signed a new contract with the club. During his first 2 seasons in San Jose, Busch has been one of the top goalkeepers in MLS. The 2008 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year first signed with the Quakes in 2010, and helped lead the franchise to its first postseason berth since returning to the league in 2008. The 11-year veteran started 33 of San Jose’s 34 games in 2011 and led MLS in saves with 113, while achieving 7 shutouts.

It’s no question Yallop has his hands full. But on the strength of last season’s achievements and his record as a manager, the Quakes couldn’t have a better man at the helm. We’re with you Frank, bring it on.

Luke JAMES

Nationality:
England
College:
Bournville Arts Coll.
Club Domestic:
Manchester United
Club Foreign:
SJ Earthquakes
6'9" Englishman with great view of the game from anywhere in the stadium. Manchester United fan since 1967. San Francisco Bay Area resident and huge (sic) San Jose Earthquakes fan. Covers entire SF Bay area soccer scene for SN.
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