Late last week, the Quakes officially kicked off their offseason. Roster announcements are always a fascinating insight into front office minds. For the Quakes, the front office was quite aggressive, as they aim to bounce back from a rather disappointing season.
MLS roster decisions always mark the end of a team’s season and the start of the work that will decide their next season. You can often tell management’s feelings based on the players that are cut or extended by the team.
After a disappointing end to the season, fans expected a reaction from the front office. However, there’s no way anyone could have predicted this level of aggression. For once, it seems that the front office is understanding the importance of this project.
Some of the players who had their options declined seemed to have their futures set in San Jose for the future. While these players may return to the club on different deals, it was still surprising to see the likes of Monteiro and Nathan have their options declined. Most of the exercised contracts made sense, but it was interesting to see the club bring back Bouda despite how little he’s played.
There’s plenty of work to be done this offseason to make this a respectable playoff side. That work started last week, but there may be more surprises coming soon.
It’s fair to say that the Quakes met the expectations set for them at the start of the season, but disappointed as the season went on. The team squandered some good progress, ultimately invoking these aggressive moves by Leich’s office.
Besides the players who had contract options, there were a few who had buy options. Out of the three players who had these options, only one player had their transfer option activated. Unlike those that had their options declined, there’s little hope that these players will return.
Rodrigues was the only player to have their transfer clause activated, ensuring the Brazilian’s spot in the backline for the future. Very few defenders in MLS bring what Rodrigues does and having him lead the defenses will help this unit be even more solid. In just over a season and a half, the Brazilian has become one of the team’s leaders and contributed to the 180 this defense has taken.
Akinola’s return to Toronto is less surprising, given how little he played and the lack of impact he had. Hoppe’s departure seems to make sense for both parties. The forward was only ever going to be in the Bay for a short time, given his obvious desire to return to Eruope while the club was never going to buy him out.
Now, it’s onto the larger news, that being the players who had their contract options declined. The list included players who clearly were out of favor to important starters.
Despite tearing his ACL, Nathan stood as the heart and soul of the team, destined to lead the backline with Rodrigues. When he played, Nathan was a positive defender despite some limitations in pushing the ball forward. If one was to bet, Nathan is likely to return on a smaller contract.
Another surprising omission is Monteiro, who played as an important starter for two seasons now. Multiple managers placed trust in the midfielder and he’s rewarded them by being a key piece in the Quakes’ midfield. It’s true that the team needs an upgrade in the midfield, so his return is in the air, but he could still be of help to any contender.
Even if he never reached his potential, Tommy Thompson’s departure hurts on a sentimental level. The Quakes’ first homegrown signing hsa done anything and everything for the club, so his goodbye will be the toughest. Judson also hurts, given the passion he showed, but the injuries have just piled on, zapping him of that energy.
Out of the rest of the players, Trauco makes sense given that he wasn’t spectacular and Marie showed he could perform on the same level. Ågren never really played for the Quakes despite their trade for him in the draft and may just be a USL level player.
Along with those who had their contracts declined, two players are now out of contract. Both Mensah and Skahan positively impacted the Quakes across the season. It wouldn’t be surprising if both return on smaller contracts with lesser roles.
Finally, there’s the players who either signed new contracts or had their options exercised. Players like Akapo and Yueill were no-brainers, but there were a few surprises here as well.
It seems that the club does believe in Oussani Bouda despite his lack of opportunities. The winger showcased some of his potential in his brief playing time, but has yet to be consistent. With Hoppe gone and Cowell close to an exit, Luchi may have long term plans for the youngster.
Another surprise was the extension of Baldisimo, but it makes sense with the loss of Judson. At this point in his career, Baldisimo may be nothing more than a fine bench player. He could, of course, still help the Quakes next season with a defensive presence off the bench.
Much of the focus will be on the departures, but there are definitely a few interesting returnees for the Quakes next season. It’s not an entire rebuild, but it’s an aggressive restructuring.
As the Quakes begin their offseason, their roster decisions shed light on the urgency felt by the front office. Luchi’s project is already producing positive results despite the late season collapse and the club knows they can’t let it go to waste. These early aggressive signs are an acknowledgment of the club recognizing how important next season will be.
Featured image: SPS Technology