Before preseason play began San Jose elected to resign midfielder Shea Salinas as well as defender Jordan Stewart. I thought the signing of Salinas was a great move since he knew the system and coaching staff. Of course I was unsure if he would see many minutes once the season started.
When San Jose started their 2014 CCL effort against Mexican side Toluca, Salinas made the starting rotation. Most of the match San Jose played from behind and missed many opportunities to tie the match. Then in the 95th minute Salinas booted a free kick high in the air that Alan Gordon headed in the goal to lock up a draw.
Salinas would come up big again during the season opener against Real Salt Lake. Six minutes in Salinas and Victor Bernardez connected with Chris Wondolowski to put the Earthquakes up 1-0. Real Salt Lake ran to a 3-1. Salinas would come up with yet another assist in the 75th minute when he booted a perfect corner to Bernardez. All throughout that match he booted beautiful crosses and corners.
The 27 year old midfielder has proven instrumental in set pieces and long balls. While most of the attention is placed on Steven Lenhart, Wondolowski and Bernardez, Salinas has proven to be an offensive catalyst. Three assists in two matches is phenomenal and may be what could push San Jose to a few wins.
With Salinas in the midfield, every pass could result in a scoring chance. His skill set will come in handy when San Jose plays Toluca in Mexico. After the completion of the CCL game they play against fellow CCL competitors Sporting KC. While Sporting has a great defense, they will be finishing up their five match gauntlet leaving the squad exhausted. Salinas could easily be the key factor for the Earthquakes getting points early this season.