With the preseason a few weeks away, many MLS teams are finalizing their rosters with new transfers and promotions through academies. One of the teams that has been more quiet, as of late, has been the San Jose Earthquakes, as they have yet to add any new players to the roster. In the western conference, there have been numerous teams that have made themselves stronger, further shining a light on the Quakes’ lack of movement.
There is a case for this offseason to be the best, and most important, one in league history with a great deal of significant transfers. From European stars moving to the league in their primes to MLS academy products moving to Europe for a great deal of money, it feels like the MLS has had its defining offseason.
Toronto FC are clearly the winners of the window, as they will add Lorenzo Insigne, one of Italy’s top players and a star for Napoli, in the summer after the conclusion of the Serie A season. Nashville, now in the western conference, have added Sean Davis from the Red Bulls to further solidify one of the best midfields in the league. The biggest departure for the league was Ricardo Pepi’s move from FC Dallas to FC Augsburg in Germany, fetching the largest transfer fee for an MLS player.
All this leads back to the San Jose Earthquakes who have been, for now at least, one of the most quiet teams in the league. Despite some glaring holes in the roster, the front office to this point has been inactive on all fronts, from transfers to academy prospects.
Now, this all comes with a caveat, there is still time, be it now or during the summer window, for the front office to fix the issues plaguing the team. These opportunities to fix the team will likely have to come through the SuperDraft or trades within the league. It does seem unlikely that any reinforcements will come from outside the league given the way the new front office seems likely to operate.
To this point, there have been just three moves that the Quakes have made this offseason, but these moves have either been expected or have yet to be finalized. These moves are good for the team and should give Matítas Almeyda some good core pieces as he begins prepping for next season.
The first two moves of the window were expected from the team, as they were extensions to players who deserved to stay with the team. Chofis’ loan has been extended through next season to no real surprise, as he was the team’s best player last season and will look to do even better next season. Paul Marie, after being cut, was given an new contract that will allow him to further develop under Almeyda.
Two weeks ago, as a result of contracts being declined, the Quakes were able to select Ján Greguš from Minnesota United in the Re-Entry Draft. Greguš is a quality midfielder who has been a mainstay in Minnesota’s team since his arrival in 2016 and should give the Quakes another great midfield option alongside Jackson Yueill. Despite the team selecting him a little over two weeks ago, they have yet to finalize his addition with a contract being offered but yet to be agreed on by Greguš.
While these moves have been welcomed by fans, it does seem underwhelming given that it is Almeyda’s final contract year and the team looks further and further away from being competitive. Given the rising competitiveness of the rest of the western conference, with these being the only moves so far, the Quakes seem doomed to miss out on the playoffs yet again.
Chris Leitch’s appointment as general manager brought an end to Jesse Fioranelli’s recruitment of players from outside the MLS. Leitch’s first move was to bring in Jeremy Ebobisse signaling a new strategy in player recruitment.
The MLS SuperDraft is often disregarded by many, as they see it as the weakest way to improve teams, as most players selected will likely play more in the USL. Despite that view, in the past few drafts, the Quakes have struck gold in players like Jackson Yueill and Tanner Beason. With these successes, it does seem that the front office will likely see the draft as a way to fix the hole at right back that desperately needs to be addressed.
It seems that trades with other MLS clubs is the way that the team will likely operate under Leitch, as there are less risks usually associated with it and the bargaining is more favorable for the team. With teams such as Toronto looking to dump salary in order to fit in new transfers, the market for trades is there. Leitch has already pulled off one trade that seems to be working well so far, so it does seem likely that the front office would prefer to work within the MLS rather than exploring recruitment outside the league.
Although it may seem like the Quakes are stuck rudderless in terms of improving the squad, there are options for them with improvements possible in a trade or draft pick. Leitch and the rest of the front office have shown that they are able to find good value in trades and the SuperDraft, but it remains to be seen whether they will be able to fix this roster in the coming weeks.
With the front office being quiet so far, many fans are rightfully worried about how competitive the team can be in the upcoming season. It’s not as if the front office is devoid of talent, rather it’s more of a question of whether they will be willing to actually act on their skills. These next few weeks will likely decide the advantage that the Quakes will have going into the new season.
Featured Image: East Bay Times