Preseason will soon be underway for the San Jose Earthquakes. Coachella Valley is going to play host to the appetizer of the 2024 MLS season. There is still plenty of time for Luchi and the front office to fix this team, but time is running out.


Going into the offseason, the team needed a fresh start of sorts. Excess needed to be trimmed while competitive pieces had to be found.

On the front office side, they’ve done well to move off certain players. Mensah and Nathan were deemed as below par, while the divorce with Cowell finally happened. Good depth pieces are being brought in, but no clear starting player has yet to be brought in.

Photo: San Jose Earthquakes

We won’t see the impact that Luchi made over the break until preseason, but he needs to have made changes. Sub patterns killed the team last year, with multiple games lost to lack of subs or wrong subs. Additionally, his system clearly broke down as the game wore on, a new mindset needs to be instilled in the team.

The west is still open and no side looks like they will be running away with the title. An opportunity for the Quakes does exist for them to be contenders, but that work starts now.


Perhaps the perfect word to describe this transfer window is a mixed bag. Depth has finally been addressed, but it’s been at the expense of the starting lineup so far.

Judd, Morales and Yarbrough are players who will likely be nothing more than bench pieces. Morales will bring plenty of MLS experience and can be of benefit to a relatively inexperienced Quakes side when it comes to MLS postseason. Yarbrough is nothing more than a backup keeper who will get his shot when Daniel isn’t able to play.

Only Judd may grow to play a larger role, but he can’t be the team’s solution at the left wing position. Combined with Bouda, Baldisimo and Kikanović, there is enough to be intrigued by this bench unit. It’s a combination of players that blend both veteran experience and youthful energy.

Even the departures have made sense, as it was time to move on from players like Mensah and Nathan. Also, the transfer of Cowell was a long time coming, but desperately needed.

Photo: San Jose Earthquakes

By far the biggest weakness for this team is the left side. The departures of both Cowell and  Trauco have robbed the Quakes of starting calibers on that side of the pitch. While it’s conceivable to imagine Marie starting at left back, it feels like his role is better suited to coming off the bench.

It’s probably fine to roll into the season with Marie at left back, but neither Judd nor Kikanović should be starting on the left wing. If the Quakes were to splash cash, they need to find a player in the mold of Hoppe. A dynamic winger who can punish teams by either creating chances or finishing them off.

All Quakes fans are surely hoping that the transfers don’t stop coming. A lot of good work has been done, but this team needs another difference maker to be taken seriously. 


Last season saw Luchi transform the culture in San Jose and play attractive soccer. However as the season dragged on, the first year blues came out.

You could blame the issues with substitution patterns either on Luchi or on the lack of depth provided by the front office. To be honest, it’s perhaps on both sides. Given the investments this offseason, there’s no excuses left for Luchi.

Throughout the season, he struggled to read the game correctly and went to his trusted player. No matter if the Quakes were winning or losing, it’d often be Marie, Judson and perhaps Kikanović. This made the team too predictable, by adhering too much to his system rather than reacting.

There was a total lack of experimenting and felt like when games got testy, he just went to what he trusted. In a second full season, this should dissipate, especially with a deeper squad.

Photo: San Jose Earthquakes

Another issue for the team was keeping control of the game. There are many examples, but the game against Dallas late last season, saw the team punch Dallas only to be lucky to leave with a point. Luchi’s system allows the team to dominate and punish their opponents, but once they lose control of the game, it’s over.

Players across the pitch seemed lost the moment they lost control, with no one, player or manager alike, being able to push them back in control. A manager needs to instill confidence in his players that  they can come back into a game. His system must be able to allow for opponents to claw back into a game, but he also needs a valve by which the team can retake control.

All the good that Luchi brought to the Bay was undone by the total collapse of the team at the end. This offseason must have been used by Luchi to understand how to allow his side to bend, but  not break under pressure.

Coachella will let fans know just how seriously to take this squad. Will the team rebound from a disappointing finish to a somewhat positive season?  Or will they collapse yet again because they’ve underestimated the task at hand?

 

Featured image: San Jose Earthquakes

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