With preseason right around the corner, Quakes soccer is almost here. Will the team finally break their rut and show progress? Or are the issues surrounding the club too big to fix in one window?
Luchi’s first preseason with the team is an exciting time for both fans and players alike. It symbolizes yet another fresh start in an era of turmoil.
While the roster hasn’t been overhauled, Luchi will still have pieces to build around. From exciting youngsters to all star caliber players, there is a competitive team there. This team does have the hallmarks of a traditional Luchi side.
This excitement means that it’s time to make some way too early predictions before preseason begins. These predictions will entail looking at the roster makeup and which players will thrive under Luchi. Also, predicting where the team will finish means comparing them to the rest of the west.
It’s time for predictions to be made that will be proven wrong. Or will the nostradamus of the Quakes finally get some right?
The MVP race for the Quakes will likely come down to Ebobisse or Espinoza with Cowell potentially threatening. Between the three, Ebobisse is the safest bet.
Finally having found their Wondo successor, the Quakes can now build around Ebobisse. Yes Cade is a great talent, but Ebobisse is the better player as of now. It’s his team until someone else replicates his exploits last season.
Ebobisse’s midseason form should have warranted an all star appearance. In Luchi’s system, which has benefitted strikers, he should only be more dangerous. While the west does have some elite forwards, few can compare to Ebobisse’s elite ability in putting chances away.
One of the only positive aspects of last season, Ebobisse will be the team’s MVP. It’s not hard to imagine him scoring another 15+ goals this year. The Quakes’ season will come down to the goals that he scores and those he doesn’t.
Wondo’s successor has a chance to try to come close to what the iconic captain did. If there is one player who can will this side to the playoffs, it has to be Ebobisse.
Given Luchi’s reputation as a developmental coach, the breakout star has to be one of the young guys on the team. He is truly lucky in that sense with the depth the Quakes have in youngsters.
It’s hard to not think of Niko Tsakiris as the player who will have his breakout under Luchi. His debut towards the end of last season showed his exciting potential. The midfielder has a chance to be another success story from the Quakes’ academy.
Without a midfield three set in stone, Tsakiris has a chance at taking the number 8 role from Monteiro. Tsakiris is a talented enough player to play the 10 as well, but playing him deeper negates all that he brings offensively. Playing alongside Yueill and a more defensive minded mid should give him freedom to attack.
Being able to be free creatively is what will make Tsakiris a star, so it’s imperative for Luchi to find the correct midfield balance. Tsakiris’ ability to flow between the midfield and attack allows him to be the glue to this side. It’s also what should let him develop into a star.
The Quakes, in an era of turmoil, have only one positive, their academy products. Tsakiris should not only be another success story, but will also be the team’s breakout player.
Like last season, the west continues to get better, as more teams find ways to be competitive. Without a large overhaul, the Quakes remain the same team that sunk to the bottom of the conference.
Juggernauts LAFC and Austin continue their arms race, collecting all the best talents available. It’s impossible to see the west not come down to those two sides. Nashville and Real Salt Lake have both gotten better this offseason and should be locks for the playoffs.
Even the clubs that didn’t make the playoffs improved, or should be better next season. Sporting KC and Seattle should be healthier, thus making them favorites to make the playoffs. Portland and Vancouver have also made moves to push them back over the edge.
With a new coach and limited improvements with the roster, there’s little optimism for the Quakes to make the playoffs. There are all star caliber pieces, but the roster as a whole is weak. Unless you’re a team like LAFC, it’s difficult to reap the benefits of a first season head coach.
While they should be better than last season, this season is the start of a longer project. They won’t finish bottom yet again, but will miss the playoffs, finishing in 10th.
Fans should view this season as the first step towards fixing the issues surrounding the club. Enjoy the performances of Ebobisse and Tsakiris, but don’t expect immense change. Or this could all be wrong and they take a union-esque jump forward.
Featured image: San Jose Earthquakes