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San Jose Earthquakes 2020 player postmortem: Danny Hoesen

Veteran’s final campaign in San Jose was quiet.

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

Danny Hoesen returned for his fourth season with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2020, the same question on everyone’s mind once more: Would this be his breakout season?

Hoesen’s high point to date in his MLS tenure was 12 goals and four assists in the otherwise horrid 2018 season for the Earthquakes, and while he always had the ability to score some goals, there was always the feeling of a square peg in a round hole heading into the latest season. Did that change?

In a word, no.

The Dutch forward started the first two games of the season, giving rise to the belief that he may have been a key player for Matias Almeyda in the Argentine’s second season in MLS. One could argue that the coronavirus shutdown hurt Hoesen’s prospects as much as anyone, since only made one more start all year.

Here are Hoesen’s stats in 2020:

Danny Hoesen 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 8 3 249 1 0 11 3 1 0
MiB Knockouts 1 0 23 0 0 1 0 0 0
Playoffs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 9 3 272 1 0 12 3 1 0

He did settle into an attacking sub role at the MLS is Back Tournament, and it seemed like he was becoming the next to fill the “Wondo role” for Almeyda — a player capable of spot starts who provides a legitimate spark off the bench in attack.

Unfortunately, with the games piling up after the local return to play phase, Hoesen got hurt and had season-ending surgery to repair muscle tears in his oblique and adductor in October. And that was that for his Earthquakes tenure, ending very quietly.

San Jose opted not to re-sign Hoesen for 2021, and Austin FC snapped him up in the Expansion Draft, which was a good move for all parties. Austin gets an experienced attacker, Hoesen gets a fresh start in a familiar league, and San Jose clear cap space, get allocation money and are exempt from the next expansion draft, all for a player they were already parting ways with.

How could we sum up Hoesen’s tenure with the Quakes? I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say it was fine but not quite up to expectations. I think it’s a two-way street, however. He was part of three separate regimes with San Jose, with radically different styles, and he was often asked to play off the central striker, even though he wanted to be the No. 9.

At the same time, the Earthquakes have perpetually looked for a forward to be the succession plan for Wondo, whose longevity and continued production has itself outlasted all expectations. Hoesen looked as good as any to be the next headline striker, able to score in bunches, but a return of 23 goals in 104 MLS regular season games is not elite. He does a job but never fully broke through. Perhaps he’ll get that in Austin.

Two more items to discuss here. First, Hoesen spoke up at the MLS is Back Tournament and spoke about the racist abuse he gets on social media, and how he told his teammates about it. In his telling, many teammates were not aware that such abuse was common. While I’m not in the locker room to assess how socially aware they are as a group, public comments that emerged during the season indicated the team overall grew on this front over the course of the season. I think Hoesen speaking up and alerting his teammates that racist abuse is very much a thing in 2020 woke up some people at the club and while it is truly terrible he has to experience that as a person of color, I hope some people did learn from his unfortunate experiences.

And I think Hoesen was always a class guy to speak to over the years, and he worked hard. Maybe he didn’t find the success he and the Quakes were seeking together, but even through the ups and downs, he was up for the challenge.

Let’s close with footage of his goal in 2020, which was a stunning flick finish:

What do you think? Leave a comment below.