Cowell and Hoppe had two wildly different summers. One spent the summer looking for a way to Europe while the other was looking to restart his career in MLS. Now, with the Quakes in a playoff battle, their futures are intertwined.
Cade Cowell has suffered a rough season at the club level while a move seems closer and closer. On the other hand, Hoppe came back to America looking for a way to kickstart a once promising career.
It took a while but the Quakes are now getting a good return on the Hoppe loan. Coming off the bench, the forward has been an impact player in all games that he has played in. There has been no period of acclimation, as he has found a way to succeed in MLS.
This has been a club season to forget for Cade, as he has failed to show any real development. Perhaps it’s time for Luchi to make a change with the club needing every point. Hoppe is that player, at the moment, who can have an impact on the Quakes’ playoff chances.
Luchi has shown a willingness to tinker with his lineup and formations in recent weeks, so this has to be a change he is thinking of. At this point, points matter more than development and Hoppe is a safer bet.
When the news hit MLS fans, it was a bit surreal to see Hoppe joining the Quakes on loan. One of the USMNT’s most promising at a moment was joining a club as another was on the way out.
From the moment he was announced, the plan seemed to be for Hoppe to eventually replace Cowell. European clubs had started to circle around the winger after he had some great performances at the U20 World Cup. Cowell was the star and Hoppe was the afterthought.
Even if the idea wasn’t to fully replace Cowell, Hoppe’s versatility gave Luchi depth at all positions across the front line. Saturday’s game showed just how versatile his play style is. Roaming all over the pitch, he was instrumental in the Quakes’ comeback.
In Hoppe, there exists a player who can be the missing piece in Luchi’s system. By being so versatile, his movement allows for Ebobisse to operate in the space left behind. Additionally, Hoppe’s presence could help Espinoza get defenders off him.
Almost a month after his arrival, Hoppe is closer to breaking into the starting lineup with Cowell close to losing his spot. Two goals in the past two games are more contributions than Cowell has mustered thus far. He’s in good form and is ready to break into a larger role.
Outside of a few good games, Cowell has been unimpressive at the club level. There has been no real improvement in his game. His touch often fails him, as he’s still slow to read the game.
Luchi has kept him in the starting lineup for pretty much every game, but he’s always been the first to be subbed off. The trust isn’t there in the player to be competitive for the whole game. It’s hurting both club and player.
Another issue for Luchi has been finding the best position for Cade. Playing on the wing allows him to exploit his speed against slower fullbacks, but he’s not a difference maker there. Perhaps the solution would be to play him at the nine position, but Luchi prefers to play with three up top.
Unless he gets in good form in the next game, the Quakes better figure out how to balance him and Hoppe. The Quakes have let much of this season go past them, but they can’t anymore.
At the moment, the Quakes’ starting lineup needs impact players, they can’t rely on subs being game changers for much longer. This means that Luchi should try Hoppe on the wing over Cowell. Hoppe can provide more versatility to Luchi’s system.
Cowell deserves time and space to learn through his mistakes and if the Quakes were in a better position, he would be a starter for the rest of the season. With the team needing a playoff run, the team’s goals may trump the player’s.
In a starting lineup with Hoppe in Cowell’s place, the front three would be more fluid. There exists a path where the opposing defenses could struggle to keep up with the Quakes’ attack. He could also provide an outlet for cutbacks from Akapo.
Losing Cowell in the starting lineup does rob the Quakes of his explosiveness. No player in MLS can match the speed and strength of the youngster. However, this also makes him a perfect candidate as an impact sub.
The Quakes’ decline over the course of the season has been unfair to many different players, but none more than Cowell. Luchi needs to be creative if the team wants to make the playoffs and that may mean starting Hoppe over him.
When he was brought in on loan this summer, Hoppe seemed destined to be a long term replacement for Cowell. However, the loanee has quickly become a key player over the past few weeks. As the team hovers over the final playoff spots, Luchi will have to make some tough choices to push the Quakes over the line.
Featured image: San Jose Earthquakes