While the San Jose Earthquakes brass was busy searching for a new General Manager — ultimately selecting Jesse Fioranelli — the duo of head coach Dominic Kinnear and interim GM Chris Leitch went forward with the off-season as if it was business as usual. The pair went on scouting trips to evaluate prospective recruits, and they began making inquiries with teams and agents as to player availability.
But in the public eye, it appeared the Quakes were sitting on their hands, waiting for the GM hiring to be completed. Homegrown player signing Nick Lima and Re-Entry Draft selection Olmes Garcia were the only two roster building moves completed ahead of Fioranelli’s arrival. Instead, the work of Kinnear and Leitch became more apparent, as they engineered the signing of defender Harold Cummings over the weekend. And now, the pace of players signings is expected to kick into overdrive.
“We’re getting there,” said Kinnear. “The Harold (Cummings) signing is a good one. We’ve been looking at him for a while. We have some other things we are looking at in the pipeline as well.”
One of those players in the pipeline is a familiar one to Quakes fans — Panamanian midfielder Alberto Quintero. The 29-year-old spent last season on loan from his Mexican club Lobos BUAP, and he expressed a strong interest in returning to San Jose this season as well. For their part, the Earthquakes want that to become a reality as well.
“Yes,” was Leitch’s one-word response to Center Line Soccer when asked about the club’s ambition to bring back Quintero. “Alberto played a large portion of the games last year, so we are evaluating if it will be a good situation to bring him in with the current players we have and the other players we are pursuing.”
Quintero, dynamic as a wide midfielder on the right side of the formation, featured in 30 games last season, racking up 3 goals and 4 assists in the process. He teamed well with fellow Panamanian Anibal Godoy — The Panamaniacs, if you will — and was integral to the Quakes attack. His contributions would be welcomed again, but securing his services for 2017 will still involve negotiations with Lobos BUAP.
“It is a little bit out of our hands because he is owned by another team,” said Kinnear. “Obviously, we liked having Alberto here last year, and we said we would try our best to bring him back. It’s up to getting an agreement between two clubs.”
In 2016, Quintero spent the season on loan to San Jose, earning a reported $190,717 in guaranteed compensation according to numbers released by the MLS Players Union. His actual contract terms with Lobos has not been made public, but it is likely the Quakes will seek another one-year loan deal for the Panamanian.
“I suspect it would be a loan,” said Leitch. “He still has time on his contract with his club in Mexico, so we would need to find a way to make that work.”
“We are trying all avenues for him, as well as for other guys,” added Kinnear. “A loan could be part of it, yes.”
The Earthquakes are also in the mix for Club America forward Darwin Quintero, no relation to Alberto, and Brondby IF forward Marco Urena, so a move to bring back Quintero to bolster the midfield ranks would be a shrewd bit if business. His loan deal last season was finalized on February 24, and a similar late preseason deal this year remains a possibility. Whenever an agreement is reached, it will be a great move by the Quakes.