Luciano Abecasis signed with the San Jose Earthquakes in the offseason, a versatile fullback who will likely take over for Nick Lima as the starting right back in 2021.
A newcomer to MLS, what can we glean from the player’s career to date? Some info on the new defender.
The Argentine is a veteran, now 30 years old, and he will offer some experience, albeit in a new location. Abecasis has played for a Grande in Argentina, in River Plate, he has some experience in Italy and Paraguay, and while the United States will likely offer a slightly bigger culture shock, the Latin American core on the team, including the coaching staff, should help in Abecasis’ acclimation.
Abecasis has played 15 games in the Copa Libertadores, a pretty good number considering how often players leave before they can rack up a slew of appearances in continental competition. So he certainly has some big game experience.
And when he was playing a regular number of games, Abecasis had some pretty good assist numbers for his position, so this is a potential skill he can put to use for the Earthquakes. Don’t expect him to score much, as he has three career goals, but he may be good for a few assists this coming season.
Of course, Abecasis also joined the Quakes because he was out of contract and because he formerly played for Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda at River Plate. Given that relationship, one figures Abecasis is not only familiar with Almeyda’s style of play, he’s willing to chase up and down for 90 minutes, because he agreed to sign with San Jose. That should hopefully help him acclimate on and off the field with his new team.
I’m not sure why, but Abecasis has not played a ton of games in his career, looks like 162 for club since making his debut in 2011. That averages out to roughly 16 per season, which isn’t much. Obviously 2020 was an aberration, but in terms of league play he’s managed more than 20 games in a season just three times, the highest being 27 in 2016-17 with Godoy Cruz.
Whether Abecasis had bad luck, was injured, in a rotational situation or wasn’t in favor is not clear, and it’s possible that having played this number of games in his career could mean he’s much more fresh than the average 30-year-old pro. But it’s also at least a little worrying, that he hasn’t appeared to be an automatic starter for most of his career for one reason or another.
How he’ll fit in with the Earthquakes
I would pencil Abecasis in as the starter at right back, but I won’t be shocked if he’s in a timeshare with Tommy Thompson in 2021. In addition to the relative lack of games in his career to date (again, maybe that’s a positive?) I do think Almeyda really does like Thompson’s game and will look to get him in the mix fairly regularly.
But the Earthquakes had atrocious defensive numbers in 2020 and clearly need some upgrades. I doubt replacing the right back will fix everything, but it’s something. If Abecasis can adjust to MLS quickly, find a rhythm and defend well, he can make it his position. If not, the Quakes’ defense will likely be as leaky as ever.
Still, the newest member of the Argentine contingent of the Earthquakes is here, and expect to see him in action before long in 2021.
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