Busch Signing Adds Depth at Goalkeeper

There’s an apartment in Chicago to pack up, a new home in the Bay Area to find and a raft of boxes still waiting in storage in Columbus, Ohio.

But Jon Busch had something even more pressing at the top of his to-do list on Tuesday.

“I need sunglasses,” Busch said, squinting from the noontime rays after finishing his first training session as a member of the San Jose Earthquakes. "I don’t even own sunglasses, because I’ve never needed them before."

It’s just the latest in a series of rapid adjustments Busch has had to undergo in the last week. The 2008 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year was unceremoniously waived on March 22 by the Chicago Fire, for whom Busch had started all 60 regular-season matches over the last two years.

“It’s been an emotional week for both me and my wife,” Busch said. “So just to get out here [to California] last night and to get out here today and get back to what I love doing is great. I’m excited to have a new challenge in front of me.”

While Busch’s wife Nikki was busy emptying out their Chicago place, the 33-year-old veteran was on the field for the Earthquakes’ entire practice, and then stayed for an extra 15 minutes while Chris Wondolowski fired dozens of shots at him.

“That’s how I am every day,” Busch said of the work ethic. “If I don’t get to go on the field, I kind of go a little crazy and my wife doesn’t like me too much.”

Busch said the contract is for one year, with options included to extend beyond the 2010 season.

The Earthquakes felt that since Busch will have a minimal impact on the team’s salary-cap situation, he was too good of a value to pass up. But coach Frank Yallop made it clear that his depth chart still has incumbent Joe Cannon at the top.

“Joe’s No. 1, yeah," Yallop said. "Joe’s playing. Joe’s not done badly. Right now, Jon’s there to back up Joe.”

The fate of Andrew Weber, suddenly dropped to third-string, will determined “further down the line,” Yallop said, when the team decides if it wants to go with two or three keepers in the long term.

Busch showed no unhappiness with the arrangement. He arrived in Chicago from Columbus in 2007 as a backup to then-starter Matt Pickens and sat on the bench until Pickens tried his hand in England before the 2008 season.

“In 14 years as a pro, I’ve never said, ‘I have to be the No. 1,’ at any time,” Busch said. “All I’ve said was: ‘Look, I’ll come in, I’ll work my socks off like I’ve always done.’ And if Frank and his coaching staff feel like I deserve a game, I deserve a game. But if not, Joe’s a very seasoned professional, a friend of mine. We go back years from the national team camps. He’s been there and done it all.”

The Earthquakes have a bye this weekend, but return to action on April 10 in -- of all places – Chicago.

“It’s crazy the way it works out,” Busch said. “I guess that’s karma.”

Whether Cannon is so sanguine about the situation remains open to debate. The Bay Area native declined through a team spokesman to talk to the media Tuesday, leaving Busch with the last word.

“If Frank picks my number, great,” Busch said. “If I stay here and I push Joe and help the team in any way possible, that’s part of it, too. I’m completely happy with that. It’s California. The sun’s out. It’s not Chicago weather.”

Sunglasses are definitely in order.

Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for He can be reached at . Follow him on Twitter at @sjquakes.