Before losing this weekend, the San Jose Earthquakes were riding a nine-game unbeaten streak which has them on the verge of leaving the Western Conference basement. The team has turned over a fair percentage of its roster during the season, trading for proven MLS vets such as Arturo Alvarez, Kelly Gray and Scott Sealy.
However the biggest spark has been provided by two foreigners that might not have been on the radar of MLS fans -- Darren Huckerby and Francisco Lima. Acquired within days of each other in July, these two players have put up a total of six goals and six assists in the last nine games, breathing life into a toothless San Jose attack. So just who are these players?
Huckerby is the better known of the two stateside. He spent the last five seasons playing for Norwich City in the English Championship and Premiership, where he made roughly 200 appearances for the Canaries. In May of this year he was named as part of the club's "greatest ever line-up."
Brazilian midfielder Lima came to the 'Quakes from Brescia in the Italian second division. Prior to that he travelled Europe, playing in Russia, Switzerland, Turkey and Italy. During four years with Roma, he played nearly 90 games, including almost 30 appearances between the Champions League and UEFA Cup tournaments.
I guess it just shows that you don't have to bring in big name stars to have a major impact on the quality of your team.