Preseason Tournament Preview: Earthquakes reload for 2012 campaign

Offseason moves give San Jose additional midfield options

The Portland Timbers begin their 2012 preseason tournament at JELD-WEN Field Monday night in the first of three matches over the next week. MLS's San Jose Earthquakes and Chivas USA come to the Rose City alongside Sweden's first division club AIK for the four-team tournament. The Timbers and ‘Quakes square off at 7:30 p.m. PT at JELD-WEN Field and will be streamed at www.portlandtimbers.com. The tilt will be the night cap of a preseason tournament-opening doubleheader — the first match, Chivas USA against AIK takes place at 5 p.m.
 


SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs PORTLAND TIMBERS
JELD-WEN FIELD, Portland, Ore.
Monday, Feb. 27, 2012
7:30 p.m. (PT)

TICKETS: Tickets for the preseason tournament are available, which start at $10 per doubleheader session, at the JELD-WEN Field box office and area Ticketmaster outlets, online or by phone at (800) 745-3000.
BROADCASTS: 750 AM The Game (pre-game show starts at 7 p.m.) / Web stream
PDF: Match Day Insert


While preseason matches can be blurry indicators of regular season success or demise, they do offer coaches extended looks at players jostling for starting spots and for the players the opportunity to work up to match fitness, the games also offer the fans a chance to reacquaint themselves with the team after a long offseason. Timbers head coach John Spencer has spoken about the desire to begin to firm up his regular season starting XI while also increasing squad fitness.

We take a quick look at the Timbers first opponent in San Jose.

The 'Quakes proved to be a bit troublesome for the Timbers during last season. Portland failed to beat San Jose, dropping a gut-wrenching 1-0 loss in the final seconds of overtime in a U.S. Open Cup qualifying match, and tied twice during the regular season (both times after taking a 1-0 lead).

On paper, the two-time MLS Cup champion ‘Quakes look to be in better shape heading into 2012. A seventh-place finish in the Western Conference (38 points) last year saw the team miss out on the postseason a year removed from a Cinderella run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010 as the league’s lowest-seeded playoff team.

After locking up forward Chris Wondolowski, who has scored 34 goals in 58 games over the last two seasons, with a new contract and re-signing veteran goalkeeper Jon Busch, the San Jose front office made several moves during the offseason to give head coach Frank Yallop more options. 

Securing the services of Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Simon Dawkins for another year on loan from the London side is a major boost, but the ‘Quakes midfield was further bolstered with the addition of two more playmakers.

The ‘Quakes added Honduran international Marvin Chávez, an diminutive speedster who can play on either midfield wing, in a trade with FC Dallas for allocation money in December. Chávez, 28, who has 23 caps for the Honduras National Team, had six goals and four assists in 31 matches for the Hoops during a breakout 2011 season.

On top of that is 33-year-old Colombian midfielder/forward Tressor Moreno. While his age might be a sign that his best years are behind him, his résumé certainly speaks for itself. Moreno has earned 32 caps for the Colombia National Team, and has competed in Chile, France, Colombia, Mexico and Peru since becoming a professional in 1999. 

Not forgetting the back line, Honduran international centerback Victor Bernardez was signed to help shore up a defense that surrendered 1.32 goals per game last season.

Bernardez, a 29-year-old with 52 caps for Honduras including an appearance in the 2010 World Cup, was signed from Belgian Pro League side Anderlecht. Known for accurate long distance free kicks, Bernardez was loaned to Belgian side Lierse S.K. and now-defunct Mexican team Indios de Ciudad Juárez in 2011.