With the announcement of the signing of Panamanian midfielder Alberto Quintero on a season-long loan from Mexican second division club Lobos BUAP, the Earthquakes concluded a busy off-season of roster moves as they endeavor to snap a three-year MLS Cup playoffs drought.
Quintero will join fellow Panamanian international Anibal Godoy, who moved to the club last summer, in San Jose and is expected to immediately improve the Earthquakes offensive options. The 28-year-old winger has enjoyed a career that has seen stops on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, with Major League Soccer a destination that was an easy sell for Quintero, especially after conferring with Godoy.
"Anibal is like my brother, and we have played together on the national team for a long time," Quintero said through an interpreter during his first media availability. "He talked to me a lot about the organization and what it was like to be here with good teammates, like Victor Bernardez as well. They've brought me into the club and made me feel welcome."
For his part, Godoy played the perfect ambassador in paving the way for Quintero to join the Earthquakes. The two have featured for Panama for many years, and most recently helped their home country qualify for this summer's Copa America Centenario with a 4-0 victory over Cuba in an early January qualifier.
"I told him that San Jose was a very professional organization," said Godoy through a translator. "That the league has grown a lot and the club has high aspirations to do great things. He never had any doubt about wanting to come here."
Quintero, like Godoy, has been a target for head coach Dominic Kinnear for some time, even stretching back to his time manning the helm with the Houston Dynamo. Getting him to come to MLS had its genesis nearly four years ago, and this off-season became a top priority as part of the Quakes roster makeover
"We were trying to bring in a good player, simple as that," said Kinnear following Quintero's first full training session with the Quakes. "I've seen him play for Panama for a lot of years, going back to when I coached Houston. We tried to bring him in there, but it didn't happen, so I continued to keep an eye on the situation."
Kinnear, along with assistant coach Steve Ralston traveled to the January Copa America qualifier to watch the chemistry of Godoy and Quintero, and they returned to San Jose impressed. All that was left to do was verify that the midfielder was as good a person as he was a player, so Kinnear turned to Godoy for his assessment.
"It was good to get some information from Anibal about the type of person he is," shared Kinnear. "Those guys are good friends off the field, so his insights were valuable."
Godoy recalled the conversation with Kinnear, and he was all too happy to help facilitate the move of not only a skilled player, but also his friend to MLS.
"When he [Kinnear] asked about Alberto, I said he was an offensive player, very agile, someone who makes the attack much better," offered Godoy. "He's also a great person, which is very important. I wanted this to happen."
Quintero, for his part, hopes the move to MLS will also give him the opportunity to play at a high level, especially with the busy international calendar Panama has in 2016 with Copa America and World Cup qualifying games throughout the season. Playing regularly with Godoy should only help in those aspirations, and Quintero has let Kinnear and the Quakes know he is ready to go.
"My goal, my dream in coming to San Jose was to play in every game I can," said Quintero. "So I am ready to play every game this year and help the team reach all the objectives they have laid out for the season."
Godoy knows firsthand what his good friend has to offer, and he is optimistic that his addition can make the difference as the Earthquakes strive to qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs for the first time since 2012.
"Yes, it's great to have him here," said Godoy. "I'm very excited to have him, and I know he's very excited to be here too."
The Panamanian pair will take to the field as Earthquakes teammates for the first time when San Jose hosts the New York Cosmos on Saturday in the team's last preseason match ahead of next Sunday's MLS season opener. With Godoy in the middle of the formation and Quintero on the wings, the Quakes will be looking for some Panamanian panache from his latest addition.