The San Jose Earthquakes have yet to sign a player this offseason that makes you stop in your track and say "Wow!" This, to many supporters, has been a sign that the team has settled on recycling its 2014 roster for the 2015 MLS campaign -- a season in which the Quakes finished last in the Western Conference and ended on a 15-game winless streak.
So it was encouraging to hear that at least some roster building is going on in San Jose on the same day that the Earthquakes selected defensive midfielder Fatai Alashe with the fourth-overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. In addition to the talented rookie, who has already signed a contract with MLS, San Jose head coach Dominic Kinnear revealed that significant progress has been made in bringing in three other players.
Two of those, defender Marvell Wynne and midfielder Sanna Nyassi, were selected by the Quakes in the second stage of the MLS Re-Entry Draft in mid-December. Selections in that draft require a team to make a bona-fide contract offer to the selected players, something Kinnear indicated that the team did, and contract negotiations can continue exclusively with the selecting club until a deal is struck.
"Talks are ongoing," said Kinnear. "We wish we were done with them by now. We are talking to both of their representatives. I don't want to put a time frame on it because you never know what might happen, but I'm optimistic that we can have these guys for the first day of preseason which would be great for us.
"We did not pick those guys to trade them or do anything else but bring them into the team."
In addition to Wynne and Nyassi, the Earthquakes are also in negotiations to bring Leandro Barrera to San Jose for the 2015 season. The Argentine midfielder spent last season on loan with now defunct Chivas USA, and the Quakes picked up his MLS rights in the Dispersal Draft. A deal would need to be worked out with his parent club, Argentinos Juniors, for him to return to MLS, but progress was also being made on that front.
"We are close to signing him too," said Kinnear.
All three players represent solid roster additions, but none is the big-name signing that many fans want to see the team make as it prepares to open brand-new Avaya Stadium on March 22, against the Chicago Fire. Kinnear would not reveal any specific targets, but he did say that he had his eye on players within MLS and abroad.
"Coming from MLS, you know exactly what you are getting," said Kinnear. "There are a couple guys out there that I like and I think can help the team.
"We are going to try to bring in a player, whether he be a goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, or forward that we feel can help. And if that guys from inside MLS, great. If he comes from outside MLS, then we will obviously do more scouting to make it happen."
Will these prospective new additions to the roster be enough to field a competitive team in 2015? Will the Quakes be able to compete in what is projected to be a loaded Western Conference for one of the six available postseason spots? Those questions won't be answered until the season begins, but Kinnear did state his intentions very clearly.
"When we step on the field the first day of preseason, the first day of the season, the first day walking down that tunnel in the new stadium, we have a team that we feel can win some games."
Kinnear, his coaching staff, and fans alike will be able to judge the success of that goal starting in just a matter of days: The Earthquakes report for preseason training on January 25.