Soccer MLS

5 Key Players to San Jose Earthquakes’ 2014 MLS Season

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5 Key Players to San Jose Earthquakes' 2014 MLS Season

San Jose Earthquakes 2014
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Earthquakes finished the 2013 MLS season tied for the fifth and final 2013 MLS Playoff position but fell short of the playoffs due to the Colorado Rapids having a superior goal differential. This season, they’ll hope that they can improve on their finish in a Western Conference that has become decisively more difficult in the offseason.

Part of the Earthquakes’ problems came up top from Chris Wondolowski. After scoring 27 goals in 2012, he only scored 11 in 2013. However, he was dealing with a toe injury for the majority of the season that should be healed by now. On top of that, Wondo is competing for one of the final spots on the U.S. Men’s National Team’s roster for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, so San Jose fans should expect him to shine early in the season as he plays his best in order to impress Jürgen Klinsmann.

While not a lot of people think that the Earthquakes have much of a chance to compete in MLS in 2014 due to the difficulty of the Western Conference, they underestimate the talent that this team possesses. I don’t expect this team to finish in the top three in the West, but don’t be surprised if San Jose makes a push for a playoff spot late in the season.

Here are the five most important players to San Jose’s 2014 MLS season. Feel free to leave a comment in the section below if you believe another Earthquakes player deserved to make this list.

Taylor Sturm is a Columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Clarence Goodson

Clarence Goodson - MLS
Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Goodson is a proven centerback, but he will have to cut out crosses and do better on set pieces because both of the fullbacks will be new starters.

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4. Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi

Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi - MLS
Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Pierazzi will be a playmaker almost immediately for SJ. His vision could make or break the Earthquakes.

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3. Jordan Stewart

Jordan Stewart - MLS
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Stewart should be starting on defense and will be a major factor in stopping the multiple teams in the Western Conference with a strong attack. He proved he’s capable last season, but can he do it again?

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2. Jon Busch

Jon Busch - MLS
Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Hailing from the Western Conference, San Jose better be prepared to go toe to toe with some of the best midfields in MLS. Their goalkeeper better be focused, because almost every team has a player capable of making a 30+ yard shot.

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1. Chris Wondolowski

Wondolowski - MLS
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

He only scored 11 goals last season, but most of that was due to a broken toe. With a potential trip to Brazil on the line, Wondo should get back to scoring form.