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San Jose Earthquakes 2020 player postmortem: Magnus Eriksson

Turns out it was hard to replace him.

MLS: Real Salt Lake vs San Jose Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Magnus Eriksson returned for his third season with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2020. Coming off the 2018 season where he was fine but hyped to be a game-changer that never materialized, on a team that was a mess, I think expectations lowered and we discovered his true level.

In many respects, the season turned out to both show him at his best and highlight how important he was through his absence.

Here are Eriksson’s stats with the Earthquakes in 2020:

Magnus Eriksson 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 5 5 450 1 1 10 1 1 0
MiB Knockouts 2 2 157 3 0 6 4 0 0
Playoffs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 7 7 607 4 1 16 5 1 0

Eriksson was a fixture in the lineup for the Earthquakes in 2020, and played a role that nobody else really occupied, pulling some strings as a “tweener” central mid/attacking mid/false 9. That’s obviously a skillset that’s not easy to find, and so he was pretty close to irreplaceable.

He also looked probably his best in a Quakes uniform at the MLS is Back Tournament. He scored three goals there, and ended up with four goals in just seven games all year for San Jose, which was obviously his best return in his MLS stint. That rate was probably not replicable over a full season, but it was a sign that he was in form and really helping the Earthquakes coalesce as a team as they reached the MLS is Back Tournament quarterfinals.

Of course, it may have been that Eriksson was at his best because he knew his time with the club was nearing an end, and after the MLS is Back Tournament, he was transferred to Djurgården, a move that he seemed to want to be back home. I think even when a player is playing well, it’s smart of a team to grant his wishes and let him move on, because that shows a strong culture at the club to treat players as humans.

At the same time, the Earthquakes struggled badly with Eriksson suddenly gone, going eight games winless in the local return to play, their season looking like it was in absolute tatters by the end of that stretch. Again, Eriksson played a role on the field that really couldn’t be replicated, and while there were several issues during that stretch for the Quakes, it took Matias Almeyda some time to find the fix to play slightly differently and start Chris Wondolowski as a “pure” striker and usually Andy Rios and Carlos Fierro as tweener attackers.

They did figure it out, eventually, and of course made it to the playoffs and nearly won their playoff game, too. But it was a bumpy road, and Eriksson really showed how important he had become in his absence.

Since heading back to Sweden, Eriksson has played in 13 league games for Djurgården, scoring three goals, as the club finished in 4th place in 2020. They just missed qualifying for Europe, but with a pandemic raging around the globe and a family to take care of, I don’t begrudge him wanting to be back home.

So that’s a wrap on Eriksson’s Earthquakes tenure and at the age of 30 I don’t expect he’ll be back playing with the club or in MLS again. You never know, though, but I think the good news is he certainly finished his Quakes ride in the best form of his MLS career. Always leave them wanting more, I guess.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.