SANTA CLARA The man largely responsible for the Earthquakes first and only playoff win since their 2008 return to the Bay Area has said he will leave the team following the 2011 season. Bobby Convey, whose 10 regular season assists in 2010, plus a memorable two goal, one assist performance in a 3-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls in the 2010 playoffs that propelled the Earthquakes to their best finish since rejoining the league, told reporters at practice on Thursday that he will 100 not be returning to the team. I will not be back, Convey, who signed a three-year deal starting in 2009 with an option for a fourth, said. The offer that I was given was completely unacceptable, so its just not going to happen.
Head coach Frank Yallop didnt say outright whether Convey would return, indicating that there would be meetings following the end of the season to finalize things, but did tell reporters, Youll know soon enough what were doing. Chances are probably not. Conveys form in 2011 did not quite live up to the bar he set from 2010, and the left-sided player claimed that he was told his option would not be picked up and that if he was to stay, it would have to be on a lower deal. Earthquakes general manager John Doyle declined to comment when asked to confirm if that was the case. I would love to come back, but I was offered like, as 75 pay cut or something, Convey said. It was just like, really? Convey, who had a team-high guaranteed compensation of 336,000 in 2011 (nearly double that of any other player on the roster), mustered just a goal and two assists over the season, though he often found himself playing in the left back position, instead of his preferred left wing position further up the field. He would make the 2011 All-Star Team as a left back. However Convey revealed that his concerns about his situation in San Jose started well before his All-Star selection. He explained that he was excited to follow up on the teams commendable showing in 2010, but the team seemed to have a different view of things. I was so excited to come back after last season, I think we all were, he said, adding that things went downhill for him from there. Everyone was calling each other, excited to get back and then when I came the first month, I was told that I was faking my injury because I didnt want to do preseason, so that was a good start, he said, with a touch of sarcasm. However, there was a much more pressing issue weighing in on Conveys mind at the time during the offseason, he learned that his wife Sloane, 26, had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Though Convey says she is nearly in the clear after undergoing surgery to remove the tumor, it naturally caused him a great deal of trouble in the beginning of the season. That was more important to me than anything else, he said. So I was sleeping at the hospital then coming out to practice and the games. I probably slept a couple hours a day in the first week or two. Following the start of the season, Convey was shifted around the field by Yallop to fill the Earthquakes various positional needs, but then was dropped from the lineup for the teams trip to Philadelphia, Conveys hometown. Im happy to do that because I can play the positions, but then I went to my hometown in Philadelphia, I was on the bench, I was not said a word, no one said a word to me, Convey revealed. Nothing. I had no idea. Convey would sit for the next few games, but was then drafted in at left back following Ramiro Corrales struggles in late May and early June. I was asked to play left back, which I didnt necessarily want to do because after last season, having such a good season offensively, and we were struggling to score goals I wanted to push forward and try to create and make something happen, Convey said. Then I was criticized for that, I was told that I was undermining the coach because I didnt want to play left back, he said, though he never went on the record as expressing displeasure with where he was being played. It was around then that he was told that the team would not be picking up his option. At that time I was told my option wasnt going to be picked up unless I scored 30 goals, so how can I 30 goals from left back?, he said, adding that he was getting paid a high salary, but not being given the opportunity to justify by playing further forward. Thats why I didnt really want to play left back because I didnt really make too much of a difference to justify my salary, he added. Now the reason why Im not coming back is because they cant pay my salary, but how am I supposed to expletive justify my salary? Convey hasnt played for the Earthquakes since an Aug. 27 start in the teams 1-1 draw at Toronto FC. The player claimed at that time, there had been a discussion about him taking a pay cut instead of having his option declined. He also claimed he had not been told by Yallop or anyone else why he was not playing. The way Ive been treated has been extremely disrespectful, he said. I didnt want to be the highest-paid player sitting on the bench, thats not my personality, Convey said. I work too hard for that, and it was eye-opening, how I was really looked at here. It doesnt matter Ive been in the All-Star Game the last two seasons, it doesnt matter about anything Ive done. Yallop, however, claimed Conveys exclusion from the team was simply based on the fact that other players had been coming in and playing well. While the team had put in some positive performances, it won just twice in the seven games since Convey was dropped. Its up to me to pick the team and thats it, Yallop said. Hes not in the team because the teams played well. Thats it, thats the only reason. Our two wide guys have been I think good, thats the only reason. While Convey was excited to face a new challenge at a new team and he claimed to have a number of suitors around MLS he indicated that he was still sad to be leaving because of the relationships he built with his teammates. I love my teammates, Convey said. My wife is friends with their wives, I enjoyed living here, our fans are great we do have very good fans hopefully they can get a stadium. Conveys absence will certainly free up a large chunk of salary space, and speculation on the 2012 roster will continue to grow ahead of the Expansion Draft, set for the week after the MLS Cup in late November, where the Earthquakes could lose a player to the expansion Montreal Impact. Ten players can be protected, but right now, the only certain absence is Convey.For more Earthquakes, MLS and world soccer chatter, you can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter: @nicholasrosano