[MLS TRANSACTIONS] Two seasons after being plucked off the San Jose roster in an Expansion Draft, midfielder Shea Salinas is rejoining the San Jose Earthquakes.
Salinas, 25, has been acquired from Vancouver in exchange for allocation money. The trade was one of two personnel moves announced Wednesday by the club, which also signed forward Steven Lenhart to an extension of his current deal.
The Quakes drafted Salinas out of Furman University with its first-round pick (15th overall) in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft.
“We’re excited to bring Shea back to San Jose,” said Quakes general manager John Doyle in a statement. “He’s a versatile guy who can play in the midfield, up top or even as an outside defender. His high work rate and pace should be a big help to us next season.”
The trade further distances the club from disgruntled veteran Bobby Convey, who has toggled between left back and left mid for most of his three seasons in San Jose. Convey was left unprotected in the Expansion Draft, and on Wednesday was listed among the players whose options haven’t been exercised for the 2012 season. Salinas is the projected starter on the right side of midfield, where a slew of players -- including Convey -- has been deployed the past two seasons. He also brings a dose of pace plus experience that can complement the other attacking elements in place.
Salinas started his MLS career with the Quakes in 2008 and played 46 games in two seasons prior to being claimed by Philadelphia in the 2009 Expansion Draft. He played 17 matches for the Union, which left him unprotected in the next Expansion Draft, and the Whitecaps snapped him up.
He started 18 games (of 26 appearances) without putting up exceptional numbers (one goal, three assists) and has been cut loose as the Whitecaps rebuild with a new head coach, Martin Rennie, after winning just six of 34 games in their inaugural MLS season. Prior to the trade, Salinas signed a new contract to replace his original deal that was set to expire at the end of the year.
Lenhart, acquired from Columbus during the 2011 SuperDraft last January, scored five goals and registered three assists while playing just 14 games. He took a long leave of absence to be with his family following the death of his father, but during his appearances confirmed to the San Jose coaching staff he was the bruising target player it needed.
“I thought Steven was great for us in the games he was available," said Doyle of the 6-foot-1, 190 pound forward. "He was a big part of that six-game unbeaten streak we had and we’re looking forward to having him paired up with Chris Wondolowski at the top of our attack in 2012." Wondolowski won the Golden Boot award in 2010 with 18 goals and tied for the league lead with 16 last season.
Convey is one of six San Jose players whose options for the 2012 season have been declined by the club and are eligible for the Re-Entry Draft The others are defenders Chris Leitch, midfielders Andre Luiz and Jacob Peterson, goalkeeper Andrew Weber, and forward Scott Sealy. The club can try to re-sign them at a different salary than they earned in 2011, and the players have the right to opt out of the Re-Entry Draft by 5 p.m. on Friday. Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Draft will be held Monday.