BY ADAM SERRANO
After failing to be competitive for the second straight year, change is the name of the game for Frank Yallop's San Jose Earthquakes.
The roster that finished at the bottom of the Western Conference has seen changes across the field from the inclusions of midfielder Javier Robles, forward Eduardo and winger Joey Gjertsen. These new additions will called upon to help an offense that struggled mightily in 2009.
The Earthquakes will continue to boast a strong defense due to the rapid maturation of Jason Hernandez and the stable presence of goalkeeper Joe Cannon. The defense will also be bolstered by the addition of first round draft pick, Ike Opara. During his limited time with the club this preseason, the defender has impressed the coaching staff and his teammates a great deal and will likely be named Hernandez's partner in central defense.
However, for the Earthquakes to be successful the club will need to generate offense in a big way in order to contend for a playoff spot. Leading goal scorer Ryan Johnson will once again be counted on to provide the goals up top and with his improving technical skills, looks to blossom into a true goal scoring threat.
Here's a look at the 2010 San Jose Earthquakes:
San Jose Earthquakes
Players to Watch– Ryan Johnson, Andre Luiz, Bobby Convey, Arturo Alvarez, Jason Hernandez
Key Arrivals– Ike Opara, Jaiver Robles, Brad Ring, Joey Gjertsen, Eduardo
Key Departures– Darren Huckerby, Shea Salinas, Simon Elliott, Antonio Ribeiro, Mike Zaher
Projected Lineup (New starters in bold):
Bobby Convey——Javier Robles——-Andre Luiz——Arturo Alvarez
Ramiro Corrales—-Ike Opara——Jason Hernandez—–Chris Leitch
Biggest Question - How big of an impact will the new faces make?
The success of the Earthquakes in 2010 depends on success of the club's latest string of new additions. The acquisition of Javier Robles in the midfield will be critical as the Argentine will provide the midfield bite necessary to allow Andre Luiz to create offensive opportunities. The Argentine is also a threat out wide due to his impressive speed and may see some time at the wing with Ramon Sanchez taking over for him in the center of the field.
The signing of former FC Basel forward Eduardo is one that GM John Doyle has long coveted. A strong presence who can knock down balls for the speedier Earthquakes strikers, the Brazilian looks to be a focal point in the Quakes attack. The forward remains a question mark due to visa issues that have kept him in Brazil for the past week and may seriously threaten his availability for the start of the season.
X-Factor - Bobby Convey
In 2009, Bobby Convey was the epitome of inconsistency. The midfielder was placed at a variety of positions from left back to forward as Frank Yallop struggled to find where he would be most effective. Convey finally settled into the left wing spot vacated by Darren Huckerby, but often struggled to provide effective service to the Quakes attackers. Convey will be expected to improve greatly in 2009 for the Earthquakes to create scoring opportunities.
During the preseason, Bobby Convey has looked sharp for the Earthquakes, providing the type of service that was expected after his move from Reading. For the Quakes to have success in 2010, Convey will need to find the consistency that has eluded him during his time in the Bay Area.