Goalkeepers Depth Chart: 1. Jon Busch, 2. David Bingham Strengths: Busch led the league last year in saves, using finely honed reactions to frequently bail out a gaffe-prone Earthquakes defense. He’s also an emotional bellwether in San Jose’s locker room and -– despite having his cheekbone broken midseason – didn’t miss a game last year until coach Frank Yallop decided to give then-rookie Bingham some seasoning. Weaknesses: The knock on Busch remains the same: that his relatively small stature (he’s listed at 5-foot-10) puts him at a disadvantage. If Bingham makes the US Olympic squad, a yet-to-be-signed No. 3 (probably trialist Evan Newton) would be one Busch injury away from starting. Wildcard: With a spot on this summer’s Olympic team at stake for Bingham, will he be happy riding the bench behind Busch, who signed a contract extension just last month? Defense Depth Chart: RB: 1. Steven Beitashour, 2. Tim Ward; CB: 1. Jason Hernandez – Víctor Bernárdez, 2. Ike Opara; LB: 1. Ramiro Corrales, 2. Justin Morrow Strengths: Beitashour firmly established himself as a dangerous attack-minded right back last year, delivering a team-high seven assists in only 19 matches. Morrow made an impact in the final weeks, although it appears that Corrales, the ageless captain, will edge him out at left back. Bernárdez comes to the Quakes with the kind of international résumé San Jose have rarely enjoyed. Hernandez is a vocal presence quarterbacking the group. Weaknesses: There’s not a lot of depth here. Bobby Burling, who logged 2,041 minutes last year at center back, was lost to Montreal in the Expansion Draft. With Ward still fighting a hamstring injury suffered in last year’s training camp, trialist Josh Suggs, a raw talent from the USL with speed to burn, could stick as cover at right back. Wildcard: Opara came into MLS projected as a probable star and potential future US national team member. That talk has been muted since Opara broke the same bone in the bottom of his left foot in two consecutive years, cutting his season short in both instances. Now he has something to prove as he tries to re-establish himself in the Quakes’ lineup. Midfield Depth Chart: LM: 1. Simon Dawkins, 2. Shea Salinas, 3. Sam Garza; CM (attacking): 1. Tressor Moreno, 2. Khari Stephenson, 3. Rafael Baca. CM (holding): 1. Sam Cronin, 2. Jean-Marc Alexandre, 3. Brad Ring; RM: 1. Marvin Chávez, 2. Salinas, 3. Garza Strengths: This was one of the Quakes’ true problem areas last year, and San Jose has made giant strides to address those needs, bringing in Alexandre, Chávez, Garza, Moreno and Salinas as well as re-signing Dawkins. With Chávez and Salinas, the once-plodding Quakes can fly down the wings. In addition, Yallop has a surfeit of choices in the middle, where he can mix and match to achieve various different styles of play; last season, the injury-riddled Quakes were far more predictable in their lines of attack. Dawkins normally plays more centrally, but he studied tapes of Samir Nasri on the left wing and made himself dangerous out there last season. Weaknesses: With so many new faces and choices for Yallop to make week-to-week, the midfield must build its chemistry on the fly this year. There’s also the potential for discontent among those not picked by Yallop. Wildcard: Moreno. The 33-year-old playmaker has been billed by San Jose brass as the club’s first true No. 10 since the Quakes were reborn in 2008. That’s a fair amount of pressure to put on a 5-8, 160-pound player who has never before tried MLS’ brand of physical soccer. Forwards Depth Chart: 1. Chris Wondolowski, 2. Steven Lenhart, 3. Alan Gordon, 4. Sercan Güvenisik, 5. Ellis McLoughlin Strengths: Wondolowski emerged from MLS obscurity to net 34 goals over the past two seasons, winning the 2010 Golden Boot and sharing top-scoring honors with Dwayne De Rosario last season. The 1-2 punch of Lenhart and Gordon give the Quakes their best pair of target men since reforming in 2008. San Jose hopes Güvenisik, a newcomer from Germany’s second and third divisions, can give them a forward who will dip behind the opposition’s last defender at opportune moments. Weaknesses: The depth looks sketchy, although that’s somewhat deceiving because several of the midfielders can push up – especially Dawkins, who Yallop sees as more of a natural second forward than midfielder. Wondolowski has carried the offensive load for two years; asking him to do so for a third would be pushing the Quakes’ luck. Wildcard: Lenhart was on track for a career year in 2011 before he left the team for good in July, overwhelmed by grief about his father’s unexpected death. If Lenhart can return to the form he showed during the Quakes’ 4-0-1 streak in May and June – a stretch in which he bagged four goals and two assists – it would go a long way toward assuring San Jose’s return to the postseason. Setting the Scene The San Jose Earthquakes went into 2011 with a roster largely unchanged from the team that went to the Eastern Conference Championship in 2010. The results, however, were hardly the same; torn apart by injuries and a battle of wills between coach Frank Yallop and left winger Bobby Convey, the club’s highest-paid player, San Jose endured a club-record 13-match winless streak en route to an 8-12-14 finish. With the big-ticket contracts of Convey and André Luiz coming off the books, the Quakes set to work immediately this winter rebuilding their midfield from the ground up. In came Marvin Chávez, Shea Salinas and Sam Garza to add speed on the flanks. Jean-Marc Alexandre arrived as a destroyer in the middle of the field. Perhaps most importantly, Colombian international Tressor Moreno was brought in to play maestro for San Jose’s attack. Add in the re-signings of Simon Dawkins, Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon, and an offense that generated just 40 goals last season looks miles better. With Bobby Burling lost to Montreal and Ike Opara working to prove he can stay healthy, San Jose added Honduran international and World Cup veteran Víctor Bernárdez. And lest we forget, the man who’s grabbed at least a share of the league’s scoring title two years running, Chris Wondolowski, is back for another year after a second consecutive winter salary bump. In and Out IN: M Shea Salinas (11/30: trade from Vancouver); M Jean Alexandre (12/1: trade from RSL); M Marvin Chávez(12/16: trade from FC Dallas); D Víctor Bernárdez (12/21: free/Anderlecht); F Sam Garza (1/12: SuperDraft); MJacob Hustedt (1/12: SuperDraft); G Chris Blais (1/12: SuperDraft); F Cesar Diaz Pizarro (1/17: supplemental draft); D David Tiemstra (1/17: supplemental draft); D James Kiffe (1/17: supplemental draft); D Tyler Krumpe(1/17: supplemental draft); F Sercan Güvenisik (1/26: Preußen Münster); M Tressor Moreno (2/2: free); M/F Simon Dawkins (2/14: loan) OUT: D Bobby Burling (11/23: expansion draft); M Matt Luzunaris (12/1: waived); M/D Bobby Convey (12/2: trade to Sporting KC); D Chris Leitch (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/LA Galaxy); M André Luiz (12/12: option declined); M Jacob Peterson (12/12: option declined); F Scott Sealy (12/12: option declined); G Andrew Weber (12/12: option declined); F Chris Agorsor (2/10: released); F/D Donny Toia (2/10: released) Star Attraction: Chris Wondolowski Not to sound like Jan Brady, but for much of the rest of MLS, the Quakes are seen as “Wondo, Wondo, Wondo!” And with good reason: Wondolowski proved his march to the 2010 Golden Boot was no fluke, bagging another 16 goals last season despite missing four matches while on Gold Cup duty with the US national team. Perhaps the biggest concern for Wondolowski is the idea that the law of averages is waiting to catch up with him; he hasn’t missed a match due to injury since 2009, so one could argue the 28-year-old striker is due to take a knock. Unsung Hero: Steven Beitashour Beitashour came to the Quakes as an unheralded second-round pick in the 2010 SuperDraft, but if he has another year like 2011, it won’t be long before plenty of people know his name. Beitashour languished behind Chris Leitch to start the 2011 season, registering only one appearance in the Quakes’ first 10 matches. But soon after being inserted into the lineup at the end of May, the 25 year old blossomed, unspooling assists from long range – he collected a team-high seven on the year – and using his pace to frustrate opposing wingers. Ready for Primetime: Steven Lenhart Lenhart (pictured at right) had half a breakout season in 2011, scoring five goals and notching three assists before July was through, then departing on a leave of absence for family reasons that stretched through the end of the year. Good target men never lack for work on Yallop’s sides, and Lenhart was especially deadly at heading home 40-yard crosses from Beitashour, who liked to launch just a few strides inside the midfield line. Lenhart said he expects to pick up where he left off last year, which included a hat trick against D.C. United; if he does so, this could be the first time since 2009 where the Quakes’ scoring leader is someone other than Wondolowski. Storylines to Watch 1. How will Frank Yallop use his new toys? Thanks to all the injuries and absences the Quakes went through last year, Yallop’s lineup selections often were made for him, simply by virtue of so few healthy players being available. With a significantly bolstered depth on hand, San Jose is no longer locked into one style, so Yallop’s choices from week to week become that much more important. 2. Protect the 1-0 lead. The Quakes scored first in 16 of 34 MLS matches last year, but they only went 7-4-5 in those games, and that winning percentage (.594) ranked 16th out of 18 clubs. San Jose didn’t add that much to their back line in the way of new faces, so improvement must come from within for the defense. 3. Warning: schedule congestion ahead. With nine matches during a 39-day stretch during June and July, a fast start is imperative for the Quakes. What He Said “I think this year, with the moves Frank and John [Doyle, the Quakes’ general manager] have made in the offseason, it’s kind of given us a different dynamic, a different look as a team. I think there’s a lot of potential for this team. We’ve said that before, but … I’m really happy with where the team is right now.” – Quakes center back Jason Hernandez If Everything Goes Right If Moreno lives up to his advance billing as the first true No. 10 in the new Quakes’ existence, it should open up all kinds of doors for a San Jose offense that struggled – outside of Wondolowski – for long stretches last year. And if Ike Opara stays healthy for a full season, the Quakes defense could once again be a unit that closes out 1-0 wins with a flourish. Doyle said earlier this month that this is the best roster the new Quakes have assembled for the start of a season. Is it enough to earn a top-three spot in a crowded Western Conference? That may be a stretch, but a return to the MLS postseason is certainly realistic, if not expected.