Sam Garza out, Jed Zayner in for San Jose Earthquakes

Jed Zayner, in a 2010 game with D.C. United, controls the ball against Justin Mapp of the Philadelphia Union.

The San Jose Earthquakes kick off their second season tonight with a road match against the Colorado Rapids. The three week break from MLS action has allowed the players to rest up for a grueling schedule over the next month and a half, as well as gave players dealing with injuries time to get healthy. Notable in the latter category are Shea Salinas, returning from a broken collarbone, and Victor Bernardez, fully recovered from knee injury.

However, just as the infirm were mended, the Earthquakes lost another player to a significant injury. During Monday morning’s team training session, rookie midfielder Sam Garza was removed from practice after a violent collision with teammate Steven Beitashour in a full field intrasquad scrimmage. Neither player was aware of each other as they pursued a loose ball, and in the subsequent contact, Beitashour’s knee slammed into Garza’s abdomen.

Garza crumpled to the ground and was quickly attended to by the training staff. However, his day was done and he was taken to the hospital as a precaution. X-rays showed that the rookie midfielder had fractured two ribs, and the estimated time of recovery was 4-6 weeks.

Garza has looked great in limited minutes with the first team, but has really made his mark playing with the reserves and in the U.S. Open Cup tournament. His brace against the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers in the tournament’s third round propelled the Earthquakes to their first Open Cup victory since rejoining MLS in 2008. Garza’s ascension to the role of reliable substitute for the first team will be put on hold while he recovers from his injury, but the prospects remain bright for the Generation Adidas product and first round draft selection of the Earthquakes.

With the Anthony Ampaipitakwong to Thailand transfer moving along — the second year Akron product was not at training this week — the Earthquakes have an open up spot on their 30-man roster. With that open roster spot, the Earthquakes announced that they have signed 27-year old defender Jed Zayner. Per the usual MLS policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The two-time NCAA champion Indiana University product had been trialing with the Earthquakes on and off since the preseason. Zayner made appearances for San Jose in a preseason match against AIK of Sweden and in a pair of Reserve League matches against Chivas USA. The former Columbus Crew and DC United defender was a non-selection in the 2011 MLS Re-Entry Draft and became a free agent, and he will wear uniform #28 for the Earthquakes.

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