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Quakes sign Zaher, near deal with Elliott
by Paul Kennedy, March 17th, 2009 7AM



[MLS] Former D.C. United defender Mike Zaher, who scored a stunning goal for UCLA at Buck Shaw Stadium during the NCAA playoffs two years ago, will be playing his home games on the Santa Clara campus this season.

San Jose has signed Zaher, 23, to a developmental contract. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound former Bruin played three league matches (eight overall) for D.C. after it acquired him from Toronto FC, which had picked him in the 2008 SuperDraft.

"Mike is a skillful left back who understands the game," said general manager of soccer operations John Doyle. "He gets into the attack well and serves a good ball. We are glad to add him to the team."

Zaher played 69 games at UCLA, scored seven goals and notched eight assists. Somewhat ironically, he also played for the PDL's San Fernando Valley Quakes during the summers of 2006 and 2007.

The MLS Quakes are also in the final stages of signing former Galaxy and Crew midfielder Simon Elliott, who has been with the team for most of the preseason. Elliott, 34, left MLS in 2005 to sign with English club Fulham, which released him last year after calf and leg injuries limited him to just 12 first-team games for the Cottagers.

"Simon gives us some experience and calmness," said head coach Frank Yallop after Elliott played the full 90 minutes in the Quakes' final preseason game, a 1-0 victory against Portland (USL-1) Saturday at Buck Shaw Stadium. "With us losing [Francisco] Lima, we didn't have a ton of money after getting Bobby [Convey], so we're just trying to make the squad strong, and I think Simon adds that experience and know-how."

San Jose opens the season Saturday at Buck Shaw Stadium and Yallop expects the paperwork to be completed in time for Elliott to be eligible. The signings of Zaher and Elliott increase the Quakes roster to 21 players; MLS teams can sign up to 24, including a maximum of four developmental players and a limit of 20 on regular contracts. Defender Jamil Roberts and Zaher are the only Quakes on developmental deals.

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