The San Jose Earthquakes announced their end-of-the-season roster decisions regarding contract extensions. This is always an intriguing part of the offseason, as it helps fans get a better idea of the team’s strategy for transfers.
While there were some surprises, for the most part, the moves were expected.
At the end of every MLS season, every team announces the declining and extending of players’ contracts that end following the past season. This allows fans to understand better the moves that the team will make in the future, as they shed cap space and certain players to fit new needs. It is also a time of nervousness, as fans wait to see if their team will cut a fan favorite or keep an underperforming player.
For Quakes fans, the announcements came later than most teams, meaning that they had to wait on the edge of their seats to see the first moves of a pivotal offseason. The importance of these announcements can not be overemphasized, as they will help shape Almeyda’s potential last year and the club’s future overall.
Starting with the players that will stay with the club, the team exercised nine-player options on some important players. Eric Remedi, JT Marcinkowksi, and Shea Salinas are among the players who had their contracts extended into next season. The veteran players who had their contracts extended are to be expected, as they are players who have been important under Almeyda and can help the transition into the next era of Quakes soccer.
Siad Haji is a surprising renewal, not because the former second overall draft pick is not insanely talented, but because he has featured so little for the team since being drafted over two years ago. Haji has shown great control and an ability to impact the wing or through the middle. This could potentially mean that the team feels that it’s time to give him more playing time which can only help his development.
Overall, the contract extensions didn’t bring too many surprises, as the extended players have proven to be important under Almeyda. There does seem to be an emphasis on youth players, with Haji being an example, along with Jack Skahan and Benji Kikanovic.
When fans saw the released players, there were some players that Quakes were not surprised to see leave.
Amongst those players, there were a few that represented the failings of the Almeyda-centric transfer strategy.
Two of the players that best represent these failures are Andy Rios and Carlos Fierro, who joined the Quakes in the 2019 season. Both players had played under Almeyda at some point in their careers and were brought to the Quakes under the assumption that they would fit in with his play style. However, both players failed in every way as they proved to not be on the level of the MLS.
Andy Rios is a much-maligned player amongst fans, as he spent three seasons barely being able to stay on the field due to his inability to score. Carlos Fierro, on the other hand, was seen as a reclamation project, and he did show some positive signs but is, at best, a rotation player in the league. Both players got paid top money to be nothing more than bench players and represent the error that was an Almeyda-centric transfer policy.
Some of the players that the Quakes let go of didn’t surprise a lot of fans, and many will be happy to see these changes. These moves represent a new shift in the team’s transfer policy that moves from manager-centric to one of player development.
On the other hand, a few surprises in the roster releases seemed to have come out of nowhere. Paul Marie’s declined team option took a lot of fans by surprise, as well as Eric Calvillo and Jacob Akanyirige’s omissions from next year’s roster.
Paul Marie had a great year this past season, with one of the best goals of the year against the Dynamo, and was starting to prove himself on the MLS level.
Almeyda trusted him in some key moments, and he was showing his versatility, being able to play anywhere on the wings from full-back to winger.
It does seem like the Quakes cut him to renegotiate his contract, as the team did not give him a send-off on social media.
Forever black & blue ⚫️?
NEWS: Earthquakes announce roster moves ahead of 2022 MLS Season https://t.co/0KjMqbYNB2
— San Jose Earthquakes (@SJEarthquakes) December 2, 2021
Calvillo and Akanyirige are both surprises as they are young players that seem like their future may still be with the Quakes but in a different way from Marie. Calvillo had a great season with Orange County SC and proved to be a solid option in a rotation, while Akanyirige is still less than 20 years, and at the youth level, has shown some potential. There is still a future for both players, as the MLS is bringing back its reserve league; both players could continue their development there and potentially come back to the roster.
Some of the roster moves were more surprising, with Paul Marie being one of the biggest surprises in all the MLS releases. For most of the surprises, there does seem to be a path for these players to rejoin the team in the future.
Fans patiently awaited the release of the Quakes’ roster moves, and once the moves were released, the plans for the future became more clear. It seems, from these and other moves, the Quakes are going to move away from the Almeya transfer policy to a player development policy with a focus on MLS level players.
These moves set up an exciting and pivotal offseason for the team as they look to retool for next season and the future.
Featured Image: Cody Glenn/SF Chronicle