Less than an hour before the start of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, one filled with teams trading up and down the board, the San Jose Earthquakes made a deal of their own, sending midfielder Darwin Ceren to the Houston Dynamo in exchange for up to $225,000 in allocation money.
The Quakes had a surplus of midfielders at the time of the trade — 12 players were already under contract — so getting some immediate value for one of them, Ceren, will give the team some flexibility in shaping the remainder of their roster in 2018. In fact, the very next day, the Earthquakes signed a new midfielder, 20-year-old U.S. youth international Eric Calvillo, to take his place.
While the timing of the exchange of Ceren for Calvillo on the roster makes the deals look related, general manager Jesse Fioranelli indicated that the trade with Houston was in the works for quite some time.
“We had received a trade request a while ago on Darwin,” said Fioranelli. “We were considering it for the last couple of weeks, but we definitely wanted to bear into consideration the interest of the player and the perspective that he has. Once we had considered the overall package that was offered to us by Houston, we were satisfied with this trade.”
San Jose will receive $100,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) and $75,000 in Targeted Allocation Money this year. The Quakes can also receive an additional $50,000 in GAM in 2019 based on Ceren’s performance with the Dynamo this season.
Ceren featured in 21 games, 19 of them starts, for the Quakes in 2017. He played the full 90 minutes for San Jose in its first round loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps in the MLS Cup Playoffs, but he was deemed surplus by Fioranelli and the technical staff as a defensive midfielder, especially with the potential shift of Florian Jungwirth into that position following the Quakes added depth in defense this off-season.
“We have a midfield that is highly talented, but also brings experience,” said Fioranelli. “The addition of [Yeferson] Quintana allows us to have more variation, more flexibility on the defensive line, and potentially also on the midfield line.”
Quintana, a young center back on loan from Peñarol, and Harold Cummings, healthy following a year-long absence due to injury, provide new head coach Mikael Stahre with options in the center of defense that would allow Jungwirth to move to his natural position as defensive midfielder after a season in which he played almost exclusively at center back. The addition of Calvillo to the mix adds depth to the center of the midfield behind stalwart Anibal Godoy, but more moves could still happen, as the Quakes have only filled 26 of 30 roster spots to date.
“We are always looking for good opportunities,” said Fioranelli. “We wouldn’t want to exclude one or another. We are always paying attention to the opportunities that are being presented to us, but we also take it one at a time, so now Darwin has been traded to Houston and should other ones follow, you will be sure to hear about them.”