On an exciting Wednesday night in September of last year, Chofis would announce himself to MLS fans and excite Quakes fans about his future with the team. That night, Chofis showed the world a player who could eventually lead the Quakes after Wondo would retire. Now, after Almeyda’s departure and Monteiro’s arrival, Chofis’ future with the team is no longer clear and may be coming to an end.
Arriving from Chivas after being frozen out due to a controversy, Chofis hoped that he could use his time in San Jose to rebuild his image. For the most part he has, with 13 goals in a little more than a season, but his role with the team is murkier than it has ever been.
Last season’s San Jose Earthquakes offensive player of the year, Chofis showed that he could really play with the best in the league. Chofis’ versatility was a perfect fit in Almeyda’s system and he showed that he could play through the middle or on the wings. Despite a slow start, Chofis showed that he could grow into the league in a way previous Quakes’ playmakers haven’t.
Almeyda’s dismissal makes Chofis’ long term status with the team unclear, as his fit in Covelo’s system seems odd given the success of his system so far. Monteiro’s success with the Quakes so far has been incredible for the Quakes, as he has overtaken Chofis in the pecking order. Now with his loan expiring in the summer, the Quakes will have to make a decision soon.
As the season ticks closer and closer to the summer, the Quakes’ front office and coaching staff will need to either bring Chofis back long term or let him move on. Either way, Chofis’ time with the Quakes has been positive and he brought life to a joyless team.
Chofis has shown in his time in the MLS that he can be a positive player and elite playmaker for a team. His play last season culminated in him winning the team’s offensive player of the year award, putting hope into fans’ minds that he could be the team’s next cornerstone.
An area that Chofis excelled at in league play that many others have struggled with is scoring against MLS defenses. Not only did he carve these defenses up, but he finished with 12 goals, the most that he has scored in a single season. Be it finishing a team move or using his elite footwork to take on defenders, Chofis’ versatility in scoring added another dimension to the Quakes’ attack.
In a season where the Quakes’ offense was anemic, memories of Carlos Fierro and Andy Ríos being unable to finish off simple chances should terrify fans, Chofis was the biggest brightspot. His hat trick on that September night against RSL was one of the best moments in Quakes history as of late. He has shown that he is comfortable with scoring in the MLS, something other Quakes signings of years past have never shown.
One of Chofis’ playstyle that made him so valuable last season, and could help this season again, is his versatility. Chofis can play pretty much anywhere. Under Almeyda, Chofis was being used anywhere from striker to winger and even at center mid, making him invaluable to a weak side.
Being able to play anywhere on the front line and through the middle has allowed for both Almeyda and Covelo to slot in Chofis wherever he can best help the team. His ability and willingness to finish play allows him to play off another striker, playing in the space they create. His best fit in Covelo’s system may be on the wing where he can cut in and create for others or finish play.
While his assist numbers have never been great, with the talent on the wings and in the midfield, he could play through the middle with less of a burden to create. Having Espinoza, Greguš and Monteiro around him can only help Chofis make the right moves and be there to link up play. Again playing on the wing where he can leave the creating to others is his best fit.
It’s unfortunate that he has been unable to see much playing time this season due to injuries, as he is still such a talented offensive player who could contribute. Although Almeyda is gone, he should still be able to find a role in Covelo’s system.
There are really two factors that will likely sway the front office’s decision with Chofis’ future in San Jose. The two factors being, his fit in the new system and his contract with both those factors likely determining his future.
After Chofis went down with injury earlier this season, Monteiro was given the keys to the offense with Cowell and Espinoza playing alongside him and Ebobisse up top. This has found another dimension to the team, as Monteiro is able to dictate play in the space created by the other three. Monteiro, unsurprisingly, has been the Quakes’ best player this season with him growing into the team week after week, as the team has bounced back from their awful start.
Not only will Chofis face in the center of the pitch, but he would also face some on the wings, as Espinoza is playing the best he has in a while and Cowell stringing good performances together. Ebobisse has been thriving this season as the lone striker, feeding off the chances created by those around him. Even if Covelo wanted to play him deeper in the midfield, Greguš is amongst the league leaders in assists and Yueill is the club’s captain and a consistent performer.
With the likelihood that he will be coming off the bench for the near future, it makes any permanent transfer tricky. In addition, his wages may be too high for a player whose role will be reduced and could give the Quakes a chance to bolster the rest of the team with that salary space.
According to the Quakes, Chofis’ loan qualifies him as a designated player, meaning that one of the team’s DP spots is currently being used on him. Should he leave, that spot and salary space could be utilized by the team to finally fix the right back position. With Bouda continuing to progress, Chofis’ playing time will continue to be limited, so the team may be better off letting him walk.
In hindsight, general manager Chris Leitch’s decision to not extend the loan more than six months or negotiate a transfer fee should have shown fans that the team wasn’t committed to Chofis long term. Covelo has shown that his system can function without Chofis due to the great play of others. This along with his wages may sway the club into letting his loan expire and give Chofis the ability to move on.
While Chofis was one of the biggest bright spots on an awful team last season, his time in San Jose looks like it’s finally coming to an end for no fault of his own. Despite his great play last season, it may be the best option for all involved to call time on Chofis with the Quakes.
Last season, Chofis was magical with his performances towards the end of the season giving fans hope of a brighter future. In a way the success of the team so far this season has made him an afterthought, as players like Greguš and Monteiro have played at a higher level than Chofis. With his loan coming to an end soon, the front office will have to make a decision soon on what to do with the mercurial player.
Photo: John Todd/ISI