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San Jose Earthquakes 2020 player postmortem: Luis Felipe

Reserve midfielder was part of toughest game in team history.

San Jose Earthquakes v Seattle Sounders FC Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Luis Felipe returned for his third season with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2020, the lanky midfielder now 24 years old and in a make-or-break spot with the club.

Unfortunately, his season was one where it looked he didn’t have a role on the team once and for all.

Luis Felipe is a shining diamond in MLS terms in one respect — born in New York, he’s an American citizen and counts as a domestic player, but he was trained as a soccer player in Brazil, at Cruzeiro’s academy, therefore having a more worldly upbringing in the sport. After working his way up the lower leagues stateside, the Quakes brought him in, and it looked like a savvy signing, a young player with a big frame who had excelled in the lower divisions, perhaps he could be the next player to really make the jump up to MLS and become a diamond in the rough star.

Luis Felipe got a good amount of playing time during the cursed 2018 season, before making just a few cameos in 2019 under Matias Almeyda. What would 2020 hold?

Well, he got a bit more playing time, but it was notably rough.

Here are Luis Felipe’s stats for 2020:

Luis Felipe Earthquakes 2020 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 2 197 0 0 1 1 0 0
MiB Knockouts 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Playoffs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 5 2 197 0 0 1 1 0 0

It’s certainly unfair to lay all the blame at his feet, but the historic 7-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders in September unfortunately became the game where Luis Felipe showed he was not at Judson’s level, and that rough night clung to perceptions of him the rest of the season. He made one more start, the regular season finale, also against Seattle, which was another lopsided loss, although not nearly as bad as the 7-1 pasting.

Like many of the other young players at the end of the bench, Luis Felipe doesn’t have a huge sample size when it comes to games played so it’s hard to really draw sweeping conclusions. Making definitive calls on a player’s game when he got two league starts in over 50 possible regular season games under Almeyda would be foolish.

Still, it was not a huge surprise when Luis Felipe was not part of the Earthquakes’ plans for 2021, one of just a handful of players to not be coming back. Fortunately for San Jose, Judson is a machine as the destroyer in midfield and if he stays healthy then they won’t need to spell him much over the course of a campaign, he is absolutely prodigious at racking up minutes at a high workrate.

It’s also possible that Luis Felipe’s game is not best suited to Almeyda’s chaotic style. We don’t talk enough, really, about if a player doesn’t fit a style, that doesn’t make him a failure as a player, period, it may just be that the player is not at his best in that particular system. I would not be shocked at all if Luis Felipe went to the USL Championship for a year and maybe even back to another MLS team at some point, getting another chance to show what he can do in a more traditional system.

And so the tenure of Luis Felipe appears to be over with the San Jose Earthquakes. He’s still young enough that he’ll likely find a new team in short order, and I think he was a well-regarded member of the locker room. But I suppose someone ended up being the sacrificial lamb for the worst loss in team history and that unfortunate person was Luis Felipe. Best of luck to him moving forward.

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