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Important starters returning for MLS sides

San Jose Earthquakes v Toronto FC

TORONTO, CANADA - MARCH 24: Victor Bernardez #26 of San Jose Earthquakes bicycle kicks the ball against against Toronto FC in MLS action at BMO Field March 24, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

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The spring has been an especially busy time in the collective MLS infirmary. The amount of injury absences more closely resembled a time later in the season, when wear, tear and taxing travel generally serve to tic up the rate of attrition.

Now important players are slowly coming back on-line, health wise. In Dallas, Brek Shea is on the practice field again and could even see the field this weekend, all of which is great news for coach Schellas Hyndman, who was missing 6 starters last week at Houston.

We talked at PST earlier about how Thierry Henry, Wilman Conde and Rafa Marquez should all return this weekend for the battered Red Bulls.

But perhaps no returning man is more important than San Jose Earthquakes center back Victor Bernardez. Yes, Victor Bernardez … but don’t feel badly if that name isn’t ringing bells.

The steady Honduran was among the key men as San Jose started 2012 on such an upswing. Bernardez was just this side of spectacular as he stabilized Frank Yallop’s defense before and April injury took him out of the lineup.

San Jose’s goals against went immediately up, not looking anything like the lock-down unit it had been up to then. With him on the field through San Jose’s opening foursome, San Jose didn’t concede a goal from the run of play.

Without him, the Earthquakes’ 1.60 goals-against average looks ordinary, at very best.

Bernardez will be available tonight as the Earthquakes visit Colorado. Bottom line: with their Honduran boulder of defense, San Jose looks like an MLS contender; without him, not so much.