Going into the offseason, the Quakes seemed destined for an overhaul. With the way the season fell apart, the front office realized that some sort of shake up needed to happen. Over the past week, transfers and moves have made it clear that next year’s side will be new.
While the front office has made a few additions, it’s really the departures that have stuck out. With plenty of time left in the window, it’s hard to not see the team make the necessary transfers to make this side better.
In terms of departures, the Quakes have already lost players who played large roles over the past few seasons. Nathan, in his short time in San Jose, was a fan favorite who could always be trusted to bring energy to the team, but his numbers never really impressed. Mensah brought plenty of experience, but he never had the trust of Luchi.
As of writing, the only additions the Quakes have made are marginal and address depth issues. Real moves of note surely hinge on the future of Cowell. If he were to depart, it’d be reasonable to assume that the club would be aggressive in finding a replacement.
Fans are surely tired of having every offseason being so pivotal while seeing little improvement. It’s, of course, a welcome sign to see a front office willing to change things, but the results have won on the field.
Back in December, when the Quakes revealed their 2024 contracts, Leitch sent a message that changes were coming. Interesting players, like Monteiro and Nathan, had their stints in San Jose cut early.
Despite the team’s strong defense, the majority of the changes have been to the backline. Trauco and Mensah departing make sense, given that they are no more than rotation level players in MLS. The team needs actual starting level players in those positions, not just average players.
Nathan is the more interesting of the departures, given how much faith the club had in him. However, the Brazilian’s numbers never showed anything other than a decent starter. The only areas where he was elite was scoring and tackling, but he struggled with blocks and errors.
It’s clear that the club wanted to see what Nathan could have brought in 2023, but Rodrigues showed that he is the cornerstone in the backline. Seattle is rumored to be his next destination, so he may still find success in MLS, just not in San Jose.
Monteiro was the other big name to have his option declined by the front office. Given just how much he played under Luchi and his important role, this is more of a surprise than Nathan. He may no longer be the all star caliber player he was, but he can still contribute in MLS.
Fortunately for San Jose, Monteiro’s replacement is already with the team. Tsakiris plays very similarly to Monteiro, with both players excelling in pushing the attack forward. Along with other moves made so far, the front office clearly trusts the youngster to take the next step in 2024.
The departures have been more newsworthy than the arrivals so far for San Jose. However, these subtractions are necessary towards the retooling that Lietch and his team are undergoing.
Cowell’s future is murkier today than it has ever been in his time in the Bay. A potential departure may just unleash a new wave of moves by the team.
Last season was truly bizarre for Cowell, a weird mixture of impressive highs and terrible lows. At the youth international level, he was a revelation, becoming a key player at the U20 World Cup for a good US side. It was the total opposite in MLS, where he continued his regression and essentially being relegated to a bench role down the stretch.
The production from Cowell has slowed down completely, finishing with just one goal and three assists. Teams understand how to guard him now by forcing him to try to playmake, rather than attack. Additionally, his playstyle just doesn’t fit with Luchi’s vision and the team played much better with Hoppe.
Both sides need a separation, with Cowell’s future aspirations dead in the Bay and San Jose ready for the next chapter. A move would free Cowell and give the Quakes the space to fully build the team in Luchi’s vision.
Any fee that the club would receive from a Cowell transfer could shape further transfer strategy. A high enough return could push the club to sign more impressive players in positions of real need. Although a loan may be underwhelming at first, attaching any sort of future transfer fee gives the club more flexibility.
With a fee from a Cowell transfer, the club must invest in a starting caliber center back and left winger. There are no solutions in house, and now that depth has been addressed, so the front office more or less has the green light. It does feel that Leitch and his team have been waiting for this moment to really shape the rest of this offseason.
Cowell will forever be a part of Quakes’ history, with his rapid rise to the starting lineup validating the team’s academy system. Just as with any relationship, there can always come a time when a break up is needed.
After a disappointing end to the season, the front office is aggressive in their retooling of this side. So far, there have been few moves that excite fans, but that could change soon. Departures are always part of offseasons, while they may be tough at times, they’re necessary for any sort of rebirth.
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