Despite their storied rivalry, players have switched between the LA Galaxy and Quakes. From Alan Gordon to Landon Donovan, this rivalry has had plenty of players appear for both sides. For their first move this offseason, the Quakes brought in promising Preston Judd from their rivals.
With plenty of uncertainty regarding their front line, the Quakes brought in another promising forward. Despite only playing 17 total MLS games, Leitch saw enough in those games to bring him in.
In his 17 games, Judd started only six of them and was used sparingly towards the end of the season. His USL numbers are much more eye-catching with a combined 30 goals in 57 matches. The Quakes picked up Judd at the right moment where he’s finally ready to make that move up.
With Hoppe gone and Cowell’s future unknown, this is a safe move with potential upside. There are interesting insights to gleam from his play, but he does seem to be a Luchi player. However, given his lack of experience in MLS, it’s difficult to envision him as the solution to the Quakes’ issues at the left wing.
Fans surely couldn’t have guessed that the team’s first move would be with their rivals. It’s by no means that most exciting of moves, but the potential is there.
Drafted in the second round of the 2021 SuperDraft, Judd came into MLS after stints with California Baptist University and the University of Denver. At just 24, Judd profiles as a talented role player who could be used as an effective starter.
Judd’s best professional moments have come with LA Galaxy 2 in the USL. Over the course of his time with the second division side, he scored over 30 goals, including a hat trick against Las Vegas. A.
If Quakes fans have had one thing going for them, it’s that the Galaxy have been a bigger mess than them. Last season was another one from hell for the LA side and that allowed Judd to get his chance. Credit should go to Judd for taking that opportunity and running with it, as he assisted twice and scored three times, including a goal against the Quakes. In USL, Judd showed that he could thrive as a left winger who cut in and finished his chances in the box.
It’s natural to wonder why the Galaxy have decided to trade him. In this case, it’s likely that the Galaxy wanted to upgrade their winger options and saw Judd as disposable.
Judd played well last season, but didn’t prove himself as vital to the future of the Galaxy. In LA, he only profiled as an off the bench option that helped during a crisis. Now this can change in San Jose, especially with the lack of depth up top.
Hoppe isn’t coming back and Cowell’s status is unknown, so Judd has the chance to break into this squad. He’s definitely the sexiest of options, but Judd is a solid bet for this front office. Even if the Quakes find a better long term option on the wing, Judd caan be the best depth piece for this team.
Judd’s time in USL, as well as his brief stint in MLS, showed a winger that is willing to score. Despite concerns over his experience, Leitch clearly sees Judd as a solid bet that is good enough to help now, while having the ability to develop.
Luchi must be happy with this addition, as Judd profiles more as a Hoppe than a Cowell. Meaning that he fits Luchi’s system much better.
Over the past few seasons, the Quakes have desperately needed more scoring from their wingers, outside Espinoza. The team is desperate for a winger who can cut in and pose an actual threat on goal. It’s what made Hoppe so valuable.
Judd can give the best imitation of Hoppe on this roster. In a short sample size, he was amongst the best in MLS in terms of expected goals and assists. Additionally, he is clearly willing to take on players with success, which is similar to Cade.
It’s in his USL stats where his playing style really becomes apparent, with the majority of his goals coming from his right foot. That style screams modern winger that can impact the game from his threatening cuts.
As the Quakes season went on and Luchi’s system really took shape, it became clear that his wingers must be threats to score. For all the good Cade brings, he’s struggled to be an effective creator in MLS. So there was no doubt as to why Luchi trusted Hoppe when the season was on the line.
Time will tell whether the front office will bring in other options, but for now, Judd is likely to be Luchi’s choice on the left. Judd cutting on his right with Ebobisse and Espinoza running should open the field more for a side that was too clustered on the left. Even if he is to come off the bench, Judd’s playstyle offers more flexibility to the side.
This move makes sense for plenty of reasons, but perhaps none more important than his potential fit in Luchi’s system. Leitch is building this squad for luchi and this move shows the trust the front office has in their manager.
For all the players who have played for both sides of the Cali Classico, Judd may not be the flashiest of players. However, his addition may still prove crucial to a Quakes side building around their manager’s vision. With Judd’s move, the Quakes have answered a need for now.
Featured image: Paul Romero Jr.