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San Jose Earthquakes 2020 player postmortem: Marcos Lopez

Defender found his sea legs in second season at club.

MLS: LA Galaxy at San Jose Earthquakes Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Marcos Lopez made a big jump in his second season with the San Jose Earthquakes, 2020.

In his first campaign, the young Peruvian looked like a fish out of water. Despite being touted as a rising star and Peruvian international, the left back looked well behind the pace of play in his first tour in MLS, and coming into the new season, I wondered if Lopez would be able to truly hack it in the U.S.

Happily, he showed substantial improvement in 2020, and while he had to wait for his turn, Lopez really turned it on in the back half of the season and showed not only his ability to compete at this level in the most basic elements, but to push and play a good two-way game on a team that needs fullbacks to push into the attack at times.

Here are Lopez’s stats for 2020:

Marcos Lopez 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 13 11 990 2 2 7 4 1 0
MiB Knockouts 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Playoffs 1 1 102 0 0 0 0 1 0
Total 14 12 1,002 2 2 7 4 2 0

It didn’t always look like Lopez had found his footing in 2020. He didn’t play in the first two games of the season before the shutdown, and then he had an appendectomy right before the MLS is Back Tournament and missed playing in that while he recuperated.

But after the local return to play, he got into the fray and took over as the starter at left back, only relinquishing his spot to go on international duty in Peru’s World Cup qualifiers, and he showed comfort with the speed of play and level of MLS for the first time.

He also started scoring goals.

Both of these are golazos, and we’ll have to see if he can score in this stellar a fashion on a regular basis, but they are the kind of goals to get very excited about, a great diagonal run and swerving finish in the run of play, and a mini-Olimpico from just outside the 18-yard box on a direct free kick.

Lopez is 21 now and remains under contract for San Jose for 2021. I think the hope is that he makes another big step up, and then perhaps he draws real attention abroad. We have less than a half-season of sample size to work with, but I think there’s compelling reasons to believe it’s possible he’ll continue to grow and improve, and could therefore become a transfer asset for the Earthquakes to flip.

What’s Lopez’s ceiling? I think playing at a top European league, potentially. I’m not sure if I would put him in the category of a top, top team in one of those leagues, but I think he can get to a good spot in Europe nonetheless. But to do that, he’ll have to keep performing for the Quakes, and honestly, if they perform well, that will raise his profile, too, since San Jose is not renowned so far for selling on players.

So I think you can say we’ve seen the learning curve with Marcos Lopez and he’s come through the acclimation period now and can really push on to perform. He’s one of a few very promising young pros at the club, and could be in line for a big 2021 if everything works out for him and his club and country. Should be a good story to watch.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.