San Jose were bounced from postseason contention on the final day of the 2015 season, and hoped to carry their momentum forward with them into the next year. That of course did not happen, the team fell to ninth in the Western Conference and longtime general manager John Doyle was sacked from the club in August as a result.
The Earthquakes opted for a European hire for Doyle’s replacement, Jesse Fioranelli, a member of the sporting direction unit at Italian side AS Roma, was hired by the club just last month. San Jose additionally made changes to its roster, removing from the roster many of the high-priced players who, over the years, failed to deliver on their contracts.
A region he seemingly knows best, the newly minted Fioranelli returned to Europe in search of players to bolster his attack alongside captain Chris Wondolowski.
Earthquakes manager Dominic Kinnear managed to avoid sharing the same misfortunes as Doyle. However, with a new general manager, and new players at his disposal, the veteran two-time MLS Cup champion will surely face heightened scrutiny to go out and deliver wins this season. There will be an increased focus on San Jose’s road record this season — last year’s Earthquakes managed only a single victory away from Avaya Stadium, which played a helping hand in the club’s dismal point total of 38.
Fioranelli jettisoned multiple expensive players during the offseason, parting company with Clarence Goodson, Innocent Emeghara and Henok Goitom. The club also opted to move in a different direction with veterans Bryan Meredith, Chad Barrett, Steven Lenhart, Mark Sherrod, Jordan Stewart and Alberto Quintero.
Fioranelli baited media from the very beginning, saying during his introductory press conference that bigger things were on the horizon for San Jose. And he wasn’t kidding, spreading his signings across the pitch.
Harold Cummings, a Panamanian national, joined the club and will most likely slot-in on defense. San Jose snagged Florian Jungwirth from the Bundesliga side SV Darmstadt, who is fully capable of playing in the backline or in the midfield. Albanian national Jahmir Hyka will likely line up on the left side, and the club’s two newest forwards — Danny Hoesen and Costa Rica national product Marco Urena — will look to take their chances at lining up with the team’s most celebrated goalscorer, the aforementioned Wondolowski.
We already know Wondo will start up top, and Bingham will be in goal, but how does the remainder of San Jose’s starting XI line up?
Simon Dawkins will likely be tapped to fill one of the midfield spots out wide, while Anibal Godoy and Fatai Alashe will pair together centrally. Expect to see Shaun Francis manning one fullback spot. The rest could be entirely dependent on how Kinnear views the fitness of his players, or whether or not he feels comfortable inserting his newest players straight into the lineup. Hyka will likely start on the left side over Cato, and we could see a battle for starts between rookie Nick Lima and Marvell Wynne, who is currently sidelined with a heart condition.