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San Jose Earthquakes 2020 player postmortem: Judson

Brazilian truly proved to be real deal in 2nd season in MLS.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at San Jose Earthquakes Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Judson is a marvel.

When the Brazilian signed with the San Jose Earthquakes ahead of the 2019 season, I remember looking up his stats prior to arrival so I could write up the news and being stunned at how much he had played. In 2018, he played roughly 4,500 minutes for Avai, a truly monumental number considering MLS players don’t play anywhere close to 50 games across all competitions in a year.

And while he wasn’t a total fixture in 2019 for the Quakes, playing in “just” 27 regular season games for the club, he was a fixture in 2020, missing just the opening two games of the season while recovering from an injury.

Here are Judson’s stats in 2020:

Judson 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 21 20 1,701 0 0 14 1 4 0
MiB Knockouts 2 2 149 0 0 2 1 1 0
Playoffs 1 1 115 0 0 1 0 0 0
Total 24 23 1,965 0 0 17 2 5 0

I think he really found his footing in 2020, becoming far more consistent in his play game to game. His first season in MLS, there were times when it looked like he wasn’t up for the speed of play, but he just needed time to adjust, and he was the much-clichéd engine room for the Quakes.

One way in which Judson’s game became more consistent is he cut way down on his yellow cards in 2020. In 2019, he registered 10 in 27 games, which meant he had to sit a couple games suspension due to accumulation. Last season, he picked up just four yellows in 21 regular-season appearances, meaning he didn’t get suspended at all. So the team didn’t have to worry about him getting a dumb booking and then missing the next game.

Obviously he wasn’t a force on attack, nor was he expected to be, but he was elite in his defense. Judson was in the 99th percentile among midfielders in both tackles and pressures per game, and was elite in all defensive actions except perhaps in aerials, which was not terribly surprising considering he’s one of the shortest players on the field at any given time.

So the Quakes got a good one when they picked up Judson, and very quietly he had a stellar 2020 season for them.

He’s 27 now, so presumably he’s approaching his peak as a pro, although one must offer the caveat that he’s played very heavy minutes previously in his career and so his peak may have started a bit sooner than for many players. Still, with two seasons under his belt in MLS and more comfort with Matias Almeyda’s system, Judson has become an indispensable player for the club, someone who can’t easily be replaced in the lineup. And while the club did do the sensible thing and acquire another defensive midfielder, Eric Remedi, as an insurance option/rotation player to possibly keep Judson fresh, I think we will expect the Brazilian will play a heavy load of minutes again if he stays healthy and out of suspension trouble.

I think the good news is that the Earthquakes’ midfield seems to be in terrific shape, with Judson providing the destroyer role, Jackson Yueill the two-way duties, and Remedi in the fray to mop up, and that means the club can look elsewhere to bolster the squad. At this point, Judson would start on most MLS teams, let’s put it that way, and that’s probably about as good a compliment as you can give. He doesn’t perform the flashy plays, but Judson is a key piece in a team that’s looking to do bigger things in 2021.

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