Despite their weird format, the MLS playoffs have been giving fans quite the show. No team is being seen as the clear favorite which could bode well for the Quakes going into next season. If anything, these playoffs are highlighting the gaps in the Quakes’ side.
With the way things have gone in the playoffs, it’s not hard to see the Quakes having a good shot next season. The team’s late season collapse demands a response from the front office with this roster construction.
Cowell needs to be moved this offseason for both sides. In his place, the team needs a more impactful winger. As Hoppe showed, Luchi’s style yearns for a winger willing to cut in.
It’s hard to judge this Quakes’ midfield because the idea is there, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. There are really two ways for the team to go, either replace Monteiro/Tsakiris or Yueill. Perhaps Luchi will return to a 4-4-2, but a change in the midfield personnel still needs to happen.
Every one of these playoff sides has their gaps filled to varying levels of quality. There are no certainties in life, but if the Quakes can fill these holes, they could be a real playoff side.
On one wing, Espinoza put together a MVP caliber season while on the other, Cowell disappointed for another season. The decision to bring in Hoppe on loan goes to show that the front office understands that they need something new on the left.
Hindsight is 20/20 and it helps no one to make the point that the Quakes should have sold Cowell in the summer. Both sides clearly need a divorce to ensure both can reach their full potential. Cowell needs a different club to progress with and the Quakes need an impactful winger.
In his brief stint, Hoppe demonstrated the type of player Luchi needs on the wings. A winger needs to be able to cut in and operate in the space vacated by the striker.
Cowell was just never able to figure that out, as he was great at running down the widths of the pitch and crossing the ball. Espinoza and Hoppe were both able to operate in the space between the midfield and Ebobisse. By doing this, the field opened up for the fullbacks to bomb down.
If Colorado is to have a fire sale this postseason, the Quakes should poach Jonathan Lewis. The winger is a seasoned MLS veteran that is still yet to reach his prime. This is the profile of the players that the Quakes should now be targeting.
Lewis would fit in well with Luchi ‘s system given his elite dribbling ability and creativity. He brings in Cade’s explosiveness with better decision making. While his numbers have fallen off, Lewis still offers enough to this team to warrant a move.
There’s no clear cut in house solution for the Quakes here, so they need to be adventurous. A DP level player could help, but there are other solutions there.
As the season progressed, the Quakes’ midfield struggled to find ways to back up their offense. While it was defensively sound, the trio of Gruezo, Monteiro and Yueill failed to bring creativity in crucial moments.
Given the way the season ended, the Quakes may have to choose between Monteiro and Yueill. Rumors last season did imply that the Quakes could have moved Yueill. MLS contracts have yet to be fully revealed, but Monteiro might be a casualty of the salary cap.
2023 was Yueill’s best year statistically, as he really found his home at the six. Luchi, like Almeyda, has trusted Monteiro to be the team’s creative hub when Espinoza. They were key starters and important for some of the best moments of the season.
Both players have been vital for the Quakes, but a change is needed. Gruezo’s contract makes it difficult to see him moved, so it has to be between the other two players.
Perhaps the simplest move is to trust Tsakiris with a starting role. The youngster continues to improve and 2024 has to be his breakout. He is the natural heir to Cowell as the Quakes’ next prodigy.
Tsakiris plays like a modern ten, gliding from position to position occupying any open space. He is a better replacement for Monteiro given the way he plays. Luchi’s system has a home for him at the eight and the path to stardom is there.
Fixing the midfield is easier to envision for the Quakes, but it may take time to see the fruits. Tsakiris has all the potential to be a star in MLS, but that path has to start next season.
If the MLS playoffs have shown one thing, it’s that the West is more open than many could have imagined. There has to be an effort to fix the holes in this side to push them over the hump. A long offseason with plenty of reflection may just be what this team needs.
Featured image: Getty