Of the San Jose Earthquakes’ 14 most-used players from their Supporters’ Shield-winning 2012 club, all but one are currently scheduled to be back in 2013.
The lone absence, however, is a glaring one: The Quakes are still waiting to hear whether English giants Tottenham Hotspur will accept the offer they’ve put on the table to permanently acquire 25-year-old midfielder Simon Dawkins.
“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,” Quakes general manager John Doyle told reporters on Thursday.
Dawkins spent the last two years on loan from Spurs to their club partners in San Jose, and proved an integral part of coach Frank Yallop’s lineup down the stretch as the Quakes completed a 19-6-9 regular season in 2012. Patrolling the left wing, Dawkins recorded eight of San Jose’s franchise record 72 goals, with six of those coming in his last 12 appearances.
Yallop sounded optimistic in late November when he told Bay Area reporters that “we’re expecting Simon to be back next season,” but deals between the clubs regarding Dawkins have historically dragged into the Quakes’ preseason preparations.
Perhaps that’s why Doyle, asked if Dawkins was the final piece needed to build a roster that can win a second straight Shield, sounded a more cautious note.
“I wouldn’t say a final piece, at all,” Doyle said. “With or without Simon, I think we can compete for a Supporters’ Shield. Do we want to add quality? Yeah. Is Simon a quality player? Of course. We’d like to have him, but it’s really not in our hands.”
Doyle said the Quakes -- who have mostly added veteran depth to last year’s core during this winter, with defenders Dan Gargan and Ty Harden signing Friday and forward Mike Fucito expected to join them soon -- would have room for “one or two” more players even with Dawkins on board.
The money available to fill those spots would obviously increase if San Jose can’t reach an agreement with Tottenham, but the Quakes will suddenly need to find another playmaker along the sideline. Marvin Chavez, the first choice opposite Dawkins, suffered a knee injury earlier this month on national team duty with Honduras and his status is as yet unknown, potentially leaving the wings in the hands of veteran Shea Salinas and second-year man Sam Garza.
Doyle declined to disclose what San Jose’s Plan B might be if Dawkins proves unavailable.
“I think that we’ll wait and see,” Doyle said. “I don’t really have a comment on what we’re going to do if that doesn’t work out.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com