Quakes to take new shape in '05
the club's 10th in this year's draft.
In between those two changes, midfielder Ramiro Corrales signed with a Norwegian club and midfielder Ronnie Ekelund also departed. While Kinnear admits the task of retooling will not be an easy one, there are some pieces to the puzzle already in place, including the club's leadership. Goalkeeper Pat Onstad, the oldest player on the club and a vocal presence at the back, will be between the posts again in 2005, and forward Brian Ching is expected to be a leader for what could be a young Quakes team.
"I think (Ching) has a very good presence on the field," Kinnear said. "We expect good things from him again. I think it will be a good chance for him to be a bit more vocal."
The Earthquakes might also get some veteran wisdom from a player who hasn't appeared for the Quakes since 2002. Defender Wade Barrett, who left the Quakes to play for Danish club AGF Aarhus after the 2002 season and is now playing for Frederikstad of Norway, has recently been rumored to be considering a return to MLS.
Kinnear said Quakes general manager Alexi Lalas has spoken to Barrett's agent. If he rejoins the Quakes, he could serve as an anchor for a defense likely to feature prominent youngsters Ryan Cochrane and Todd Dunivant.
"He's a player who was with us before, and he's another one we really didn't want to see go," Kinnear said. "I've always felt that Wade was very good; he was just on the brink of making the national team squad before he left. Anytime a player of Wade's ability pops up, you have to take a serious look at it."
A more pressing need for the Quakes may be at the forward position. Donovan has already departed, and with Dwayne De Rosario out of contract and in discussions with European clubs, Kinnear and the rest of the Quakes staff could soon be forced to make finding a partner for Ching their No. 1 priority.
Replacing Ekelund and Corrales in midfield is also high on the to-do list.
"We want (De Rosario) to come back because we know his value in the league, and we know what type of player he is," Kinnear said. "He's out of contract and he has a right to explore his options. I think he also knows one of his options is to come back to San Jose, and we hope he takes us up on that.
"All across the board now, we probably need one player in each of those positions," he added.
Kinnear has put the pressure on himself to find new talent, saying the club has to replace good players with players of equal caliber. Though the club may not have the resources to spend the kind of money Donovan might be worth in the world market, they do have an allocation available as compensation for losing Donovan's services.
The Quakes also have the majority of the selections in January's SuperDraft, and Kinnear spent the weekend in Carson, Calif., scouting players at the NCAA College Cup. Kinnear said he intends to make the most out of his allocation and draft picks.
"It's nice to have that (allocation). You want to use it," Kinnear said. "It's our job to try and go through all of the resumes and look at videos and DVDs and bring to San Jose what we feel is a good player worthy of that type of attention and that type of pursuit."
Before he gets down to the business of replacing the parts of two championship teams that will no longer be in San Jose, however, Kinnear thinks the contributions of those players who are leaving should be honored.
"You talk about Landon and Jeff, Ramiro and Ronnie, and all the rest, a lot of times, a 'thank you' is forgotten," he said. "Not only are they good players, but they're good people. They brought some great soccer to San Jose."
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.