The San Jose Earthquakes biggest weakness has suddenly turned into perhaps the deepest, most potent midfield in Major League Soccer.
After Andre Luiz's season-ending knee injury, the Quakes struggled to fill the void left at center mid. However, after trading for 2009 No. 2 overall SuperDraft selection Sam Cronin, signing Jamaican international Khari Stephenson and agreeing to terms with Brazilian playmaker Geovannni, the Quakes suddenly have a pleasant problem: Who starts, who sits?
One solution posed by MLSSoccer.com's Simon Borg would see San Jose playing a 4-5-1 with Geovanni serving as a withdrawn striker. In that formation, Cronin and Stephenson would both stay on the field.
Further extrapolating the Quakes midfield depth, what happens when Ramiro Corrales and Ike Opara are healthy? That would add Bobby Convey and Brandon McDonald back to the fold. Geovanni, Convey, Stephenson, Cronin, McDonald, Joey Gjertsen and Arturo Alvarez - head coach Frank Yallop has plenty to think about with that string of midfielders to choose from, but it's a good problem to have.
HORWATH IN CAMP
Alex Horwath trained with the Quakes for the first time. Horwath wil join San Jose as an MLS emergency pool goalkeeper for Saturday's match against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The former Wisconsin Badgers net minder regularly trains with the Kansas City Wizards but is available to any MLS team that needs an emergency goalkeeper due to injury. With San Jose in the market for a No. 2 keeper after Joe Cannon broke his ankle on Tuesday, Horwath's brief stint in camp is also an audition for Quakes management.
EDUARDO AND LEITCH UPDATES
Eduardo and Chris Leitch spent the day rehabbing on the side. Leitch has been out since San Jose's friendly against Tottenham Hotspur on July 17 with a left hip strain. Eduardo has made several appearances for the Quakes in 2010, but hasn't been able to shake an injury suffered during the pre-season to his right hip.
There is no timetable for either player's return, but both should be cleared to play before season's end.
San Jose's boisterous supporter's group the 1906 Ultras attended all of Thursday's training session. The group draped a pair of banners on the front-row railing at Buck Shaw Stadium - "Our World Cup Final," and "Beat LA."
Quakes fans are pumped as ever for the California Clásico, especially with the MLS playoff race heating up.
Note: Fans should arrive at least one hour prior to kickoff on Saturday. The Quakes are expecting a record crowd and anybody arriving within 30 minutes of kickoff may not make it through the gates in time to see a full 90 minutes.