The San Jose Earthquakes have an aging defensive back line, especially at center back, so it came as no surprise that general manager John Doyle targeted the position as the next in which to increase the depth on the roster.
Speaking after the press conference to introduce newest Designated Player signing Innocent Emeghara, Doyle acknowledged that both Victor Bernardez and Clarence Goodson, World Cup veterans that are both on the wrong side of 30 years old, could require suitable backups to spell them when they required rest. The teams counts Ty Harden in that group, but Doyle suggested further reinforcements could be brought in.
"As for a wishlist, you always want to get younger in the center of defense," said Doyle. "We have two veterans guys that are excellent, but I think we have lowered our age substantially. We've gotten younger and I think that's important."
Doyle was speaking about the team as a whole, but he was also referring to the age of players that he is still looking at to fill the roster.
"You are always looking for another player," continued Doyle. "There's always a need. There's always something that you want to fill. You always want to get a little better, so I wouldn't say we are done."
One such potential recruit is 27-year-old Portuguese center back Paulo Renato Valério Calado Rodrigues, or simply Paulo Renato, who has been on trial with the Earthquakes since the beginning of preseason camp. The former Quarteirense defender featured for the Quakes in a preseason game against their U-18 Academy team and scored a goal against the He started against the 'Caps paired with Bernardez, and together the two center backs worked a scoreless half on defense. in the team's most recent friendly.
Prior to his stint with Quarteirense, Renato spent one season with Oliveirense and one season with Atlético, the latter with which he scored his only goal in the last four years. Renato was a product of the youth academy at Sporting Clube de Portugal -- the same club that developed Yannick Djalo, the on-loan forward with the Earthquakes in 2014 -- and featured for Portugal in the 2007 U-20 World Cup. Renato has never featured for Portugal's senior national team.
Renato, if signed by the Earthquakes, would make a good replacement for departed defender Jason Hernandez, who was selected by New York City FC in the 2014 MLS Expansion Draft and provided good coverage at center back all last season for San Jose. The Portuguese player has played nearly his entire career in his native country's second division, so he is not projected to be a major signing, but he could be just the value pick-up the Quakes need to round out their 2015 roster.
The Earthquakes conclude their stay in Arizona on Tuesday with a friendly against the Portland Timbers. Without a doubt, Renato has proved that he deserves significant evaluation in this preseason, and head coach Dominic Kinnear will give the Portuguese more minutes. As with most Earthquakes trialists, the longer Renato stays in camp, the more likely it is that he will be offered a contract.
Update: Kinnear indicated the paperwork was complete to bring Renato to San Jose, and the club was waiting for the move to be made official by MLS.