Gargan and Harden, both selected in the second stage of the 2012 MLS Re-Entry process, are expected to provide depth to a defensive line that lost a pair of valuable contributors from last season in the traded Ike Opara and the retired Jed Zayner. The two newest Quakes can cover both at centerback and fullback, providing head coach Frank Yallop with some options in a season that will feature multiple competitions.
"Gargan is with us now and Harden who I worked with in Los Angeles" said Yallop. "We've added a few guys that can help fill in. We didn't want to be waiting to see if a trialist was going to be good enough, so we went with guys that have played in our league. For some reason, maybe they didn't get along with their clubs and were let go, but they are solid citizens."
The Re-Entry process, which when instituted was envisioned as a first step toward a free agency system in MLS, is still in its nascent stage, and teams within the league are continuing to work out the nuances. However, where it can be helpful is in stocking up a team's roster with players familiar with the ways of the league and the grind of an MLS season. Perhaps castoff from their former teams, players still retain the knowledge and experience to be valuable contributors.
"If you bring in a player and you believe he is going to help us, you try to get the best out of him," said Yallop. "You can see talent in a player. It's getting the best out of them and letting them flourish."
Gargan and Harden are the latest to join the Earthquakes band of misfits - and fellow castoffs Mike Fucito and Bryan Jordan could follow - as Yallop fills in his roster with players motivated to prove their worth. The ethos in San Jose is one of "work hard, every day," and the two newest Quakes look up to the responsibility.
Player backgrounds (per club release):
Gargan, 30, is a seven-year MLS veteran who spent his last two seasons as a member of the Chicago Fire. The right back has two goals and eight assists in 123 career appearances while splitting time with the Colorado Rapids (2005-08), Chivas USA (2008), Toronto FC (2010-11) and Chicago Fire (2011-12). He was a regular starter for the Fire and helped the club reach the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2012 as well as the 2011 U.S. Open Cup Final. The former All-Big East selection was a co-captain for the Georgetown Hoyas in college.
Harden, 28, is a five-year MLS veteran who spent his last three years with Toronto FC. The 6-foot-1 center back has 74 appearances and 64 starts during his career. Current Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop drafted Harden to play for the LA Galaxy in 2007 where the lanky center back started 24 games during his rookie season. After taking a year off from soccer, Harden returned in 2009 as a member of the Colorado Rapids before joining Toronto FC in 2010. In college, Harden captained the Washington Huskies and was a four-year starter in college.