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San Jose Earthquakes 2020 player postmortem: Carlos Fierro

Attacker found his footing in 2nd season with Quakes.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at San Jose Earthquakes Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Carlos Fierro was the first of what is becoming a trend of former Chivas de Guadalajara players to be reunited with Matias Almeyda at the San Jose Earthquakes. Joining in the summer of 2019, the attacker had bounced around a bit after a long run with Chivas, the Mexican never quite reaching the heights of his entrance onto the scene when winning the U-17 World Cup in 2011.

Fierro was an attacker but had never become a prolific scorer in Mexico, and in his first half-season in San Jose he didn’t find the back of the net. Was 2020 more of the same?

Yes and no. He’s 26 now, and it’s safe to say Fierro is probably never going to become a bulk scorer. However, he did show improvement in 2020 with the Quakes, both in terms of production and in integrating with his team and getting some grip on MLS.

Here are Fierro’s stats in 2020:

Carlos Fierro 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 16 11 961 2 3 21 8 2 0
MiB Knockouts 2 0 44 0 0 0 0 0 0
Playoffs 1 1 87 1 1 1 1 0 0
Total 19 12 1,092 3 4 22 9 2 0

I think three goals and four assists in about 1,000 minutes, again, is not some kind of gangbusters production, but after struggling to get into the lineup or coming off the bench the first half of the season, Fierro started 11 straight games down the stretch, as well as the playoff game, and became a regular in the San Jose lineup.

The first two games he started were heavy defeats, although Fierro finally opened his account in that first start, which turned out to be a 6-1 loss to the Portland Timbers. Still, after those two games, the Quakes turned their season around and Fierro was in the middle of it, an industrious worker who could get involved in the goals from time to time.

In a sense, Fierro has a bit of the Manu Ginobili about him, because despite being a professional athlete who has bags and bags of athleticism that us regular folks could never hope to possess, he often looks awkward on the field. The very best example of this is the “good or lucky?” goal he scored in the playoffs against Sporting KC.

It appears his left-footed attempt is bound to go way, way wide right, but it bounces off a defender and completely wrong-foots the goalkeeper, going into the net. Savvy move to play pinball there or incredible luck? You be the judge!

I think Fierro, therefore, came good in a sense in 2020, because he found regular playing time, he scored a few goals, and just seemed more settled. He actually seemed like he could hang in MLS, which was honestly a bit of an open question the year before. And look, players sometimes need that time to adjust, it’s not a crime to take some time to find your footing.

Now, while Fierro has a level of comfort with Almeyda and has improved, is he truly starting caliber in current terms in MLS? Maybe this is up for discussion, but in my opinion, he should be a bench option or a rotation starter, not a regular. It’s not his fault, and the Quakes made it work, but they really need someone who can bang in more goals to eventually supplant Chris Wondolowski, and it’s clear Fierro won’t be that guy. Yes, I know that there are “non-scoring forwards” who can be quite effective in their careers, but to push on the Earthquakes really need to get more scorers on the field and that means Fierro’s place in the lineup could be under threat if they get one.

You never know, though. Wondo was a late bloomer and maybe Fierro is on a real upward trajectory, seemingly out of nowhere. Like the rest of the Earthquakes, he’s a battler, and you know he gives his all every time he’s on the field. We’ll see what 2021 brings for him and beyond.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.