One of the big questions for the San Jose Earthquakes this offseason was how the club would approach a complicated situation at goalkeeper.
Longtime starter Jon Busch was coming off a record-setting season, but at 38 years old, out of contract and with the promising David Bingham finishing his fourth year in a reserve role, the Quakes needed to decide how much longer the club legend would be first choice behind the sticks.
San Jose’s direction cleared up somewhat with the announcement that Busch would be made available in Thursday’s re-entry draft, and that Bingham had been signed to a new four-year contract.
The future in goal became crystal clear today when the Earthquakes selected former Columbus and Vancouver keeper Andy Gruenebaum as the second overall pick in the re-entry draft. The veteran Gruenebaum, 31, will likely serve in a reserve role, and as an insurance policy for the untested Bingham.
Gruenebaum was one of only three players selected in the draft, along Eric Kronberg (first overall to Montreal) and Robbie Findley (sixth overall to Toronto FC). The draft serves as the first stage of the re-entry process, a tool for veteran players who are out of contract to find new clubs, as the MLS does not have traditional free agency.
Clubs who select players in the first round are required to pay draftees at least 105 percent of their 2014 salary. According to figures released by the league, Gruenebaum’s salary in 2014 was $85,000, which means San Jose will have to pay him at least $89,250 in 2015.
The “Hebrew Hammer” — yes that is Gruenebaum’s nickname — has rarely been a consistent starter in his seven-year career, but impressed in 2012 and 2013 as the first team choice for Columbus before being traded to Vancouver following an injury-plagued final campaign.
Interestingly, Gruenebaum made his first appearance replacing an injured Jon Busch in a 2006 match for Columbus.
San Jose currently has three goalkeepers on their roster with Bryan Meredith sitting third in the depth chart. San Jose kept four keepers on the roster last year, so it’s likely Meredith will continue in a deep reserve role for at least another season.