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San Jose Earthquakes 2020 player postmortem: Paul Marie

Fullback fulfilled role on Quakes squad.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at San Jose Earthquakes Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Marie returned for his third season with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2020. The French fullback had been used as a bench option and occasional spot starter in Matias Almeyda’s first season in charge of the team, and that was his role again in their second season together.

He’s got some skills that are pretty obvious: He has managed to play on either flank in defense, he keeps the game in front of him and he adjusts to being a sub and jumping right into the fray pretty well. In this regard, he’s an ideal player in many ways for Almeyda’s system, which needs full buy-in from players and an ability to jump on the screaming train while it’s flying down the track.

Here are Marie’s stats in 2020:

Paul Marie 2020 Earthquakes Statistics

2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 12 4 353 1 0 4 2 1 0
MiB Knockouts 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Playoffs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 12 4 353 1 0 4 2 1 0

Marie’s playing time was pretty similar to his time in 2019. I think had there been more games, he probably would have played a bit more, and he did get in more games last season.

He also scored his first MLS goal in 2020, during a run when fullbacks seemed to be scoring nearly every game.

So Marie does a job and does it pretty well. He’s 25, he knows the system and the club, and so the club signed him to a new multiyear deal recently.

I think in some respects it’s a bit surprising. Do teams want to have backups on their squad? Of course. But “conventional wisdom” in MLS often means churning through backups, unless they are young prospects or wizened veterans. Marie doesn’t fit in either bucket — he’s a backup kind of in his prime years, or getting close to it.

Most teams would move on from him, fair or not. But it’s worth considering two factors: The Earthquakes may be entirely comfortable with what he brings and he’s already well familiar with Almeyda’s system, so there’s a comfort factor, and who knows, maybe they think he can push to be a starter one day. We haven’t seen him as a regular starter so far, and based on a rather small sample size, he seems like a good reserve, but you never know, I suppose.

So Marie will be back for 2021 and presumably beyond. He may not have been the first name on the team sheet in 2020, but he pitched in for the cause and seems to do his part in an unusual system. We’ll see what the future brings for him on the Earthquakes.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.