I’m about to lay out a pretty obvious column here, but with some obvious context to keep in mind as well. Let’s talk context first:
- The San Jose Earthquakes have shown at times they can perform reasonably well even if they have one of the least talented rosters in the league.
- Earthquakes ownership aren’t about to really open the purse strings and sign expensive and really big name stars anytime soon.
Ok, having laid that out, it’s pretty clear the Earthquakes need to add roster upgrades as soon as possible.
In the offseason, the Quakes brought in Chofís Lopez, Eric Remedi and Luciano Abecasis and a few very young players otherwise. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the player with prior MLS experience, Remedi, has adjusted to playing with San Jose fastest, and one could argue perhaps his absence due to yellow card suspension on Tuesday played a significant role in the Earthquakes’ worst performance of the season, a 5-0 loss at Orlando City.
I think Abecasis was meant to be a rotation starter, honestly, so he’s roughly where expected. In the end, Chofís ended up being the “big” signing, and while he’s had a couple good goals this season, he tends to drift in and out of games and the ultimate judgment on him remains out, I think.
But the Earthquakes have two Designated Player spots open, and general manager Jesse Fioranelli earmarked adding a central defender before the season. That hasn’t happened yet, and while Fioranelli has said that the team would not be afraid to add players in the summer transfer window with the bulk of the season to be played this year, there is probably some concern that the team may stand pat. Do they have enough to come out of their current slump, with five losses in six games and one goal scored in that span?
We saw in 2020 that San Jose did indeed regroup as constituted and finish the season pretty well, so I suppose there’s always outside hope they’ll do it again.
But there are clear limitations to this squad, and while the team ethos Matias Almeyda has instilled in the group means they do sometimes play above their level, it’s dangerous to assume they’ll find a higher gear again.
Now let’s get to roster needs. Here’s what I think is absolutely critical for the Earthquakes to target ASAP:
- A transformational center back (easier said than done, but they’re out there if you can spend a bit)
- A gosh darn consistent scorer (ditto, but you need to spend more here, frankly)
- Either a productive central playmaker or a productive winger (both would be best, but asking for three starters already is a lot to ask, I realize)
The central defender and scorer are vital because first, San Jose’s system means the defense will be put under immense pressure at times and they need someone to deal with that, and second, they haven’t yet found the successor to Chris Wondolowski and they really ought to before Wondo actually retires. I know they’ve been trying to get a scorer for years and years but this team isn’t currently just goal-shy, they’re goal-allergic and clearly this group is not going to suddenly get multiple double-digit scorers this season. They need upgrades.
Again, I realize this is pretty obvious, and I think what the team has accomplished under the circumstances is better than what we would see under virtually any other coach, Almeyda has gotten blood from a stone, in my opinion.
But if the Quakes are actually going to build on any progress made to this point, and to try and see if they can either convince Almeyda to stay longer than planned or to make the most of the probably limited time they have left together, the roster needs big upgrades in the summer window. Absent that, we may be in for a long season based on the current trend.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.