Earlier this afternoon, the San Jose Earthquakes announced the signings of three rookies to developmental contracts: 2009 MLS Super Draft second-round pick Brad Ring, and 2010 second-round draft picks Justin Morrow and Steve Beitashour. Neither the league nor the team announced details of the deals.
Ring spent most of last year recovering from a serious hip injury that prevented him from joining the Quakes until late in the season. He impressed in training sessions throughout October and into November. Since preseason camp began in January, Ring has been a mainstay in the center of the midfield, where he has earned significant minutes during exhibitions. By late February, head coach Frank Yallop indicated that Ring was a favorite to make the 2010 roster. Prior to being drafted by the Quakes, the 22-year old attended Indiana University, where he played 78 games, scored 14 goals and had eight assists in his college career helped lead the Indiana Hoosiers to NCAA Tournament berths in all four seasons.
Morrow received rave reviews at January's MLS Combine, resulting in the Earthquakes making the defender their third pick in the draft at #28 overall. The Notre Dame product started his college career in the midfield, but in his senior season made the transition to the defensive line. Typically used on left side, Morrow utilizes his good speed to contribute extensively in the attacking third. While still firming up his defensive abilities, the 22-year old has shown tremendous upside during preseason training.
Beitashour was drafted two picks after Morrow at #30 overall and was initially considered to be a long shot to make the team. However, the San Jose native has impressed both as an outside midfielder and outside defender. During preseason exhibitions, the 23-year old has often provided cover for Chris Leitch, where his combination of defensive toughness and passing ability have made him a very versatile player.
Including Ike Opara in the mix, the Earthquakes have now signed all four rookies that were competing for roster spots on the 2010 team. By my count, that gives the Quakes 25 players under contract -- with only 24 roster spots available per the guidelines of the previous (and current working) MLS CBA. This over enrollment is not yet an issue, given that MLS has not determined a date for roster compliance. Still, it makes for an interesting parlor game of who is the odd man out if rosters need to be trimmed to 24 players.