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Quakes acquire rights to Stephenson
by Ridge Mahoney, February 15th, 2011 12:55AM

TAGS:  mls, san jose earthquakes


[MLS] Frustrated in their efforts last year to infuse some Brazilian flair into their attacks, the Quakes have instead gone Jamaican. Midfielder Khari Stephenson, who showed a few sparks last year on loan while falling down the depth chart behind Brazilian DP Geovanni, has signed a new contract after San Jose reached an agreement with Norwegian club Aalesunds to obtain his rights.

Once the Quakes decided to jettison Geovanni and compatriot Eduardo, it stepped up efforts to nail down Stephenson, who played 11 games for the team after joining it in early August.

Stephenson, 30, has signed a three-year contract, terms of which were not disclosed. Nor was the fee paid by MLS for his rights divulged. He came back to MLS last year after playing in Sweden and Norway; he began his pro career by playing nine games for Kansas City during the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

“I’m very happy,” San Jose coach Frank Yallop said to “I didn’t want to lose him in the first place, but ... the patience has paid off.”

Stephenson set up Chris Wondolowski for a goal with a precise ball in his debut, a 1-0 defeat of Kansas City Aug. 14, but a lack of game fitness and the arrival of Geovanni a week later curtailed his contribution. He managed just one goal and one assist in 11 starts.

“When Geovanni came in, Khari had to make way a little bit,” said Quakes general manager John Doyle. “I think that didn’t help Khari out that much. This season, with it just being Khari, it’s going to be great.

“I think he can be one of the elite center midfielders in this league. I think he has the physique for it. He had good vision, is a good passer on the ball. He’s a hard worker. I think he has it all. We saw it [last year] that he can do
some great things for us.”

Said Stephenson, a native of Kingson, “I enjoyed the style of play that we had. It brought the joy back to me. I think Frank will be able to bring the best out [of] me.”

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