Earthquakes

Quakes re-sign Lenhart, add Salinas

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Quakes re-sign Lenhart, add Salinas

The Earthquakes have begun the process of re-shaping their roster for 2012. They announced today that they have re-signed forward Steven Lenhart to a contract extension and acquired midfielder Shea Salinas from Vancouver Whitecaps FC in exchange for allocation money.

Lenhart, 25, originally joined the Earthquakes in Jan. 2011 as part of a trade that saw the Earthquakes give up their first-round pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft and allocation money to the Columbus Crew.

The big-target forward got off to a strong start as an Earthquake, scoring five goals and tallying three assists, but missed the last half of the season after being granted a leave of absence to attend to family matters his father had passed away at the beginning of the 2011 season.

Obviously a very, very tough year for Steven as a young man losing his father, said Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop, adding that he believed Lenhart was ready to focus on soccer again. I think he feels ready to go. Nobody forced him to re-sign, he did it on his own terms.

The undoubted highlight of Lenharts time with the Earthquakes was his hat trick against D.C. United in June that earned him the North American Soccer Repoters MLS Player of the Week award. Before leaving the team, he was on pace for his most productive season yet, having collected his five goals and three assists in just 1,163 minutes. He was already just one goal away from matching his personal best over a season, the six goals he scored with Columbus in 2010, which he amassed over a period of 1,640 minutes.

I thought Steven was great for us in the games he was available. He was a big part of that six-game unbeaten streak we had and were looking forward to having him paired up with Chris Wondolowski at the top of our attack in 2012, said Earthquakes general manager of soccer operations John Doyle.

Salinas, also 25, was the only played selected by the Earthquakes in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft, going 15th overall. He made 46 appearances over two years with San Jose, tallying two goals and five assists. Salinas was subsequently picked in consecutive MLS Expansion Drafts, playing in 2010 for the Philadelphia Union and 2011 for the Whitecaps, where he registered a goal and three assists over 26 appearances (18 starts) for the last-placed team.

Were excited to bring Shea back to San Jose, Doyle said. Hes 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.

In addition to his versatility, Salinas brings plenty of speed to the field and could help fill the creative gap left by the departing Bobby Convey, as well as other players such as midfielder Simon Dawkins whose futures with the team remain uncertain.

Shea is an option to play wide left, wide right, Yallop said, adding that the player is most comfortable on the right. We know Shea, I've had a good chat with him and he's excited to be coming back and wants to be here.

When asked if the Earthquakes had lacked a quick player like Salinas in the 2011 season, Yallop responded affirmatively.

If you look, yeah, we did miss a player like Salinas, he said. Weve been trying to get that kind of player for a long time, but its difficult.

Yallop further explained that Salinas will proved useful in breaking down teams that tend to press more, with the players speed providing a big boost in being able to get behind teams back lines.

The Earthquakes also declined to pick up contract options on several players, including Convey. Joining Convey in their availability for selection in Dec. 5s Re-Entry Draft are defender Chris Leitch midfielder Andre Luiz Moreira, midfielder Jacob Peterson, forward Scott Sealy and goalkeeper Andrew Weber. The Earthquakes could still bring some of these players back at a lower deal.

Yallop highlighted Leitch and Peterson as two players who stood out among the list of players who had their options declined, saying that there could be a chance we get them on a decent salary.

For more Earthquakes, MLS and world soccer chatter, you can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter: @nicholasrosano.

Road woes continue, Quakes fall to Dynamo

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USATSI

Road woes continue, Quakes fall to Dynamo

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON  — Alberth Elis and Vicente Sanchez each had a goal and an assist, and the Houston Dynamo blanked the San Jose Earthquakes 3-0 on Saturday night.

Houston (10-7-7) joined Seattle and Sporting Kansas City at the top of the Western Conference standings by improving to 9-0-3 at home.

Elis got his head on a corner kick by Boniek García to open the scoring with his seventh goal in the 21st minute. It was the Dynamos' league-leading 17th goal off a set piece.

Elis helped ice the game in the 86th minute with a nifty touch to get around a defender before Sanchez beat his defender and the goalkeeper to the centering pass for his first goal.

Sanchez gathered a loose ball just before it crossed the end line and centered it to Mauro Manotas for his eighth goal in stoppage time.

Tyler Deric had three saves for his fourth shutout.

San Jose (9-10-5) has lost five straight on the road and remains one point up on Vancouver for the final playoff spot.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Quakes' 2-1 win over Columbus

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USATSI

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Quakes' 2-1 win over Columbus

BOX SCORE

It appears that stretches at Avaya Stadium for the San Jose Earthquakes are showing up on the schedule at just the right times. 

Not too long ago, the Quakes were reeling after a miserable stretch of soccer on the road. But now, after two straight wins at Avaya -- the latest a 2-1 victory over Columbus Crew SC on Saturday -- San Jose is once again knocking on MLS' playoff door. 

Marco Ureña scored in the 42nd minute and Chris Wondolowski added the eventual game-winner in the 56th. 

It's going to make for a nail-biting latter part of the season for sure in the super tight Western Conference. But for now celebrate with these five takeaways from the Earthquakes' ninth win of the season. 

-- Don't look now, but the win on Saturday means the Quakes have already surpassed their total from last year. The victory jumps their point total to 32, good for fifth in the Western Conference as of this article's publication. Dallas' loss and more importantly Vancouver's draw were huge results for San Jose as the season turns to the scoreboard-watching phase with eight teams jockeying for six playoff spots. 

-- Have a game, Tommy Thompson. Columbus controlled the first 20-25 minutes but it was around that time that the midfielder began to put his stamp on the match -- much to the appreciation of his San Jose teammates. He gave Columbus fits purely with his work rate and along with his assist, he came within inches of his second goal of the season. It was undoubtedly one of Thompson's most complete matches. Not only did he facilitate Wondolowski's goal, but defensively, Thompson was a visible and noticeable force. One has to wonder if he's turned the corner with that aspect of the game -- it was his defense that many speculated was keeping him out of the lineup during Dominic Kinnear's time as the head coach. 

-- Marco Ureña scored his third goal of the season and his first since a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake on June 24. Ureña was a mainstay in Kinnear's lineup and hasn't really gotten the opportunity to earn the trust of new head coach Chris Leitch -- with a lot of his time spent on international duty since the Leitch was hired. Keep an eye out on that relationship. 

And, it's also time to acknowledge another round number for Wondolowski. With his goal in the 56th minute, the forward has hit the 130 career goals mark -- 123 of those have come since 2010. 

Wondolowski is still fourth on the all-time list but now he's only three behind Jaime Moreno and four behind Jeff Cunningham. 

-- That's now back-to-back impressive performances for David Bingham. And that has to feel super good for the former Cal keeper considering the defensive disaster that was San Jose's most recent road trip. 

-- After years of research and MLS flirting with the idea, Video Replay is here. And like most new things that are introduced into a sport rich in tradition, there is plenty of chatter -- for and against the change -- floating around. 

There will be four main areas of focus for MLS' new VAR: goals, penalty calls, direct red-card incidents and cases of mistaken identity (when it relates to yellow and red cards). 

On Saturday, the system was not truly tested except for the couple of minutes it took to analyze Adam Jahn's goal for Columbus.