For the past few seasons, it has felt like the Quakes’ defense has been their ultimate achilles’ heel. Just this season, the team has blown leads due to their defense being torn apart with ease. The front office has correctly made changes to the backline, offering hope of a better future for fans.
This summer transfer window was supposed to be a reinvigorating shot in the arm for a team that would have been hovering around the playoff line. That is clearly no longer the case for the Quakes, but this window has been a success in rebuilding the backline.
Every player bought in has been a defensive reinforcement in areas that have desperately needed help for years now. At center back, the front office has found Rodrigues, a young Brazilian right sided defender. It’ll be interesting to see how the Quakes will line up with Rodrigues, as one of Beason and Nathan will be sacrificed to accommodate him.
For years Quakes fans have had to watch so many different players from Luciano Abecasis to Kofi Sarkodie try to fit in at the right back position. Now, the Quakes have signed an experienced right back who should help bring a veteran presence to the backline. Replacing Marcos López was always going to be impossible, but the Quakes have brought in another Peruvian left back who should help.
While these transfers were never going to pay dividends this season, they are still a positive development for a team that has desperately needed defensive help. For a team that already has an above league average offense, these reinforcements were desperately needed for the future.
Any good defense starts in the center, it doesn’t matter if you have João Cancelo and Alphonso Davies, the center backs will decide a team’s fate. Rodrigues will, hopefully, be the defender that the Quakes have lacked since Víctor Bernárdez retired.
Rodrigues had spent most of his young career playing in the lower leagues in Brazil, similar to Judson. However in 2019, Rodrigues made the move to Brazilian giants Grêmio where he would start for some of the club’s biggest matches over the course of his three years in Porto Alegre. With Grêmio relegated to the second division, Rodrigues has a chance to continue his development in San Jose.
It’s difficult to find exact and detailed statistics on Rodrigues, but the stats that are available show a defender who has played in some of the best competitions in the Americas and played well. Rodrigues is a great aerial presence who fills out his 6’2” frame, giving the Quakes another big defender. Passing numbers are hard to find, so he may not be a ball playing center back.
Where things will get interesting for the Quakes will be who to play alongside Rodrigues. Will it be the left footed calming presence of Beason or the disruptive and chaotic Nathan?
Nathan will surely be his partner given how much of a character he has become with the Quakes. It’s not as if he’s only a personality, Nathan has been the side’s best defender and one of the best in MLS. The fit may be awkward with two right footed center backs, but the talent of both players is too much to not give them that chance.
Beason’s fit represents a deeper question that the Quakes will have to deal with next season, with the question being what becomes of the youth movement? In Beason’s short career, he has shown that he has the ability to play a long career in MLS and is still continuing to grow. However, with Rodrigues’ arrival, it’ll stunt not only his growth, but also Oskar Ågren, who has struggled to find playing time.
Since Bernárndez left the club in 2017, the team has struggled to find MLS caliber center backs. Nathan is already an excellent center back and, fans hope, that Rodrigues can become a top MLS center back next year.
In 2012, the Quakes had the two best fullbacks in the MLS in Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow, however the Quakes traded both of them away in subsequent seasons. Since then the Quakes have struggled to find MLS caliber fullbacks, outside of Nick Lima and López.
The right back position has been up in the air since 2012, with a litany of players filling in, but the Quakes may have found their long term in Carlos Akapo. The La Liga veteran is a capable passer, but his excellence comes on the defensive side where he led the league in certain categories. Akapo will give the Quakes a more defensive minded fullback opposed to the more offensive minded Thompson.
Akapo’s addition gives the Quakes a starting right back, but also cover at center back given his defensive prowess. While a full back that can attack is always wanted, given the Quakes’ potent offense, it’s more useful for their full backs to be defensive minded. His arrival also means that Thompson will likely return to the bench where his creativity could allow him to be a super sub.
Replacing Marcos López was always going to be a difficult task, given just how important the Peruvian left back became over his time in the Bay. Now that López is in the Netherlands, it’s time for the Quakes to move on from Marie as his replacement.
Miguel Trauco is another Peruvian left back and, like Akapo and Rodrigues, is a veteran player who has played in some of the toughest leagues. Joining from Saint-Étienne, Trauco will give the Quakes a left back who is capable in both the attack and defense. While he is not on the same level as Akapo, Trauco should help shepard a defense that leaked goals.
It’s almost a certainty that Trauco will replace Marie as the starting left back, but this will give Marie a chance to be subbed on higher up the pitch and provide more depth. Trauco will be an upgrade given his experience at the highest level. At the same time, this should give Marie a chance to play in what should be his best role, coming off the bench to change the game.
For the first time in years, there is optimism about the team’s choices at full back, as certain glaring needs have finally been fulfilled. Veteran presences who can help shore up a defense that has been the worst in MLS for years now is just what’s needed.
The Quakes have been held back by their defense for years now, so it was imperative that they improve the backline over the summer. In a series of moves, the front office was able to find improvements at each position in the backline and should give the team a fresh start. For a team that has desperately needed a new start, this is a step in the right direction.
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