The San Jose Earthquakes made their first big moves of the offseason on Wednesday, acquiring an old face in midfielder Shea Salinas from the Vancouver Whitecaps and signing forward Steven Lenhart to an extension.
The Quakes sent allocation money to Vancouver for the 25-year-old Salinas (above), who began his career in San Jose in 2008 and appeared in 23 games during his rookie season and again in 2009, leading to his selection by the Philadelphia Union in the MLS Expansion Draft before the 2010 season.
Salinas’ numbers trailed off slightly in Philadelphia (17 appearances, including seven starts) but he was still a hot commodity during last year’s Expansion Draft. The Whitecaps swooped in and took Salinas for their inaugural MLS season, and he thrived with a career-high 18 starts in Vancouver.
The 25-year-old Lenhart, meanwhile, showed signs of being the target man head coach Frank Yallop coveted during his limited appearances with the Quakes in 2011, scoring five goals and adding three assists in 14 games before taking an indefinite leave of absence from the team in August following the death of his father. Per league and team policy, terms of the extension were not disclosed.
“I thought Steven was great for us in the games he was available," San Jose GM John Doyle said in a statement. "He was a big part of that six-game unbeaten streak we had [from May 11 to June 11] and we’re looking forward to having him paired up with Chris Wondolowski at the top of our attack in 2012."
The Earthquakes originally acquired Lenhart from Columbus last January as part of an MLS SuperDraft day trade that send the club’s first-round pick and allocation money to the Crew in exchange for the Jacksonville, Fla., native. Before he joined the Quakes, Lenhart scored 13 goals and had four assists in three seasons in Columbus.
Back with San Jose in 2012, he'll likely benefit from the midfield service of Salinas, who’s headed back where his career began and where he was perhaps at his most effective on the offensive end. The Quakes drafted Salinas 15th overall in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft out of Furman, and he logged a career-high five assists during the 2009 season under Yallop. He also scored two goals during his rookie season, the only multi-goal season of his career.
Salinas is a likely starting left midfielder for the Earthquakes, who have parted ways with defender/midfielder Bobby Convey and still have to come to terms this offseason on a loan deal for Simon Dawkins. Veteran Ramiro Corrales also manned the left flank at times last season in San Jose.
“We’re excited to bring Shea back to San Jose,” Doyle said. “He’s a versatile guy who can play in the midfield, up top or even as an outside defender. His high work rate and pace should be a big help to us next season.”