San Jose Earthquakes
Spartan Stadium (MLS capacity: 26,514)
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Record in 2004: 9-10-11, 38 pts., 4th in the Western Conference
Finish: eliminated by Kansas City in Conf. Semis (3-2 agg)
Head Coach: Dominic Kinnear
Key Departures: Landon Donovan, Jeff Agoos, Ronnie Ekelund, Todd Dunivant, Arturo Alvarez, Richard Mulrooney, Chris Brown
Key Additions: Ricardo Clark, Alejandro Moreno, Ronald Cerritos, Brad Davis, Danny Califf
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
Pat Onstad: The MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2003, Onstad struggled as injuries hit the Quakes back line early in 2004. He regained his form in August and should carry it into the new campaign.
Wade Barrett: After a preseason in which Barrett asserted himself as a veteran leader, Kinnear has handed the captain's armband to the left back who is back with the Quakes after two years in Europe.
Eddie Robinson: The 26-year-old suffered a ruptured hamstring tendon in 2004, but he is reportedly as good as new. Though he should still start as a center back, he'll have to wear a mask for the beginning of the season to protect a broken facial bone.
Troy Dayak: The oldest field player on the Quakes' roster, Dayak was slowed by injuries last year. If he stays healthy, he is still the Quakes' most effective defender, but if not, second-year player Ryan Cochrane could take his place.
Craig Waibel: Waibel scored his first MLS goal in 2004, but that's not what he's here for. He's around to harass opposing attackers, and he does it pretty well.
Brad Davis: He came to the Quakes from FC Dallas on draft day, and he shot the lights out in preseason. Look for him to be very involved in the attack from the left and take a majority of the team's free kicks.
Danny O'Rourke and Ricardo Clark: There is a lot riding on the young shoulders of the Quakes' central midfield tandem. O'Rourke impressed a lot of MLS coaches at the player combine in January and continued to wow Kinnear and staff in camp. Kinnear is also high on Clark's ability. The veterans around them will help them overcome their inexperience.
Brian Mullan: The only remaining starting midfielder from last year's squad, Mullan will again prove dangerous on the right. He and Davis could combine to provide some impressive wing play.
Brian Ching: The Hawaiian Superman will be asked to provide the bulk of the Quakes' scoring. He can finish with the best in the league, but a lot of his success could depend on how well he combines with Ronald Cerritos or Dwayne De Rosario.
Ronald Cerritos: Since De Rosario hasn't trained with the Quakes much this preseason, the starting job appears to be Cerritos' to lose. Though he hit age 30 in January, he can still create chances for himself and for his teammates.
The Earthquakes were fourth in the league in both goals for and goals allowed last year, and with a solid starting unit and some backups who can step in and perform, they should be able to maintain that form this season. The club was able to restock their roster with several capable veterans, and while many observers lament the loss of Landon Donovan and Richard Mulrooney, this team could surprise some people. "People will find out about us when they play us," Kinnear said. "I don't think you can put anything on us right now."
NEWCOMER WITH THE BIGGEST IMPACT: Brad Davis
Davis comes to the San Jose Earthquakes after a difficult 2004 season with the Dallas Burn. He has the natural ability to rebound well with his new team, and he's already shown in preseason how lethal his left foot is. Davis could cause real problems whipping in crosses from the left, and with a big striker like Ching running onto them, the Earthquakes could be in for many happy returns. "Everyone says Brad had an off year last year, ... but whenever he played against us, he played well, and I always liked the way he played," Kinnear said. "I think Brad's going to do well."
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.