With a well taken penalty against Dallas, Jeremy Ebobise entered the Quakes’ history books. Ebobisse broke Ronald Cerritos’ 23 year old record of the most goals by a Quake in a season, not including Wondo of course. In the span of a year, Ebobisse has gone from an interesting project to the Quakes’ MVP.
When the Quakes traded for Ebobisse last season, it was with the hope that he could be a stopgap between Wondo and the next great Quakes striker. Ebobisse has exceeded these expectations and is now the side’s best player.
At the time of the trade, Ebobisse’s career was at its lowest point with a once promising career in tatters. The Quakes gave him a chance and he has rewarded them, becoming the club’s star man in less than a year. For a team that was dreading Wondo’s departure, they were able to find their replacement in a shock trade.
Not only is he Wondo’s successor as the Quakes’ targetman, but he is also a successor in the way he plays. Ebobisse is a poacher’s poacher, as he always finds himself in the best places waiting to pounce on any chance. There are moments where he clearly wants to be a more modern forward and has done well to get more involved in the buildup.
The Quakes found gold in their trade with the Timbers and have found their future in what was a small trade at the time. In less than two seasons, Ebobisse has gone from an unwanted prospect to a star striker.
For years, the Quakes struggled to find a future for the team after Woondo would eventually retire. In Ebobisse, the side has found a striker that can score double digits and be the team’s focal point.
The Portland Timbers selected Ebobisse fourth overall in the 2017 draft with the hopes that he would lead the club in the post-Valeri era. Ebobisse joined the Timbers during an interesting period in the club’s history. Shortly after joining the Timbers, the side exploded and quickly became one of the league’s best, allowing Ebobisse to develop in a winning culture.
While he barely saw the field in his first few seasons, Ebobisse in 2019 announced himself to the MLS world. Unfortunately for Ebobisse, the Timbers decided to target other options to continue being competitive. This meant that he would often be played out of position and by 2021, it was clear that he was on the transfer list.
On August 5th, 2021, the Quakes announced that they had acquired Ebobisse for less than $750,00. This was the first big move in the Chris Leitch era and announced his intentions as the new general manager of the Quakes.
Ebobisse joined the Quakes during the tumultuous Almeyda era and struggled to fit into the manager’s system. Before even getting a real chance with the team, Ebobisse’s season would be ruined by a concussion suffered in a match against the Rapids. Despite coming back to the pitch at the end of the season, Ebobisse was clearly not fully fit and never fit in with Almeyda.
Almeyda’s sacking was a blessing in disguise for most of the Quakes’ players, as Covelo unlocked the offense’s true potential. Covelo allowed Ebobisse to be himself and play off more creative players. This has, in turn, fully tapped into Ebobisse’s potential and he has become one of the league’s best scorers.
At one point, Quakes fans were dreading the day that Wondo would hang up his boots, but Ebobisse has made that feeling dissipate somewhat. If Ebobisse’s progress can continue, then the Quakes have a cornerstone for the future already available.
In a lot of ways, Ebobisse is not only Wondo’s heir as the Quakes’ focal point, but also stylistically. By mixing the classic traits of a poacher with the modern demands of a forward, Ebobisse is a unique player in the MLS.
Wondo’s biggest strength was his ability to position himself for the best chances, be it a cross or deflected pass. Ebobisse has a lot of that in his skillset and positions himself in the box accordingly. Playing with creators like Espinoza and Monteiro allows him to position himself in the most advantageous of places.
Ebobisse’s elite ability to finish is similar to Wondo, as he is a threat with his head or feet. Both players live near the 6 yard box and are constantly looking at the keeper like vultures. It’s clear that the short time that he spent as Wondo’s understudy has helped Ebobisse develop into a special player.
By playing alongside talented creators, Ebobisse is relieved of some of the pressures of playmaking, but he’s willing to be a part of the build up play. There are plenty of moments where Ebobisse initiates play from deep. This means by holding the ball in order to pick out a winger to carry the ball forward.
At the same time, he is active outside of the box either firing off shots or playing the ball to an open man. This is one area where he truly differs from Wondo as the Quakes legend did not stray out of the box too often. It also makes him a unique threat at all levels of the game in a way that the modern game demands.
The MLS is constantly evolving and will surely challenge South America’s best leagues in a battle of supremacy in the Americas. In this evolving landscape, the Quakes will need a unique striker and Ebobisse will surely become that.
For years, the Quakes failed to find any help for Wondo in terms of lifting the goalscoring load off his back. While Ebobisse never truly was able to help Wondo in this way, he has become his heir apparent in both San Jose and league wide. Fans may look back to this trade as being the one that saved the franchise from total irrelevancy.
Featured image: San Jose Earthquakes