In his first full season with the Quakes, Ebobisse became the heir apparent to Wondo. His goals promised fans, in an otherwise terrible season, that the future up top was secured. Last season was a disaster for the striker and now, his form may decide the Quakes’ season once more.


Ebobisse is an elite MLS striker when things break his way, he reads the game well and knows how to get past MLS defenses. For the most part, he has played to his potential, but last season was a concerning dropoff. 

After scoring 17 goals and carrying the offense in 2022, Ebobisse only found the back of the net ten times in 2023. By far the most worrying part of his decline in production were his droughts. Those came just as the team struggled to find any sort of clinical finishing.

Photo: San Jose Earthquakes

The pressure will only ramp up going into next season, but there’s enough in his game to suggest that there will be some sort of improvement. Having had a full year in Luchi’s system this should  have solidified his role. It’s safe to pencil him in for another 10+ goals, but next season has to be a return to 15+.

As the season dragged on, Ebobisse and his teammates struggled to get into any sort of form. It’s not entirely his fault, but there will be no margin for error next season.


2022 showed that Ebobisse could be the solution for the Quakes once Wondo retired, but 2023 disappointed fans. Additionally, his struggles coincided with the worst moments for the Quakes, especially towards the end of the season.

A potential reason as to why Ebobisse struggled was the shift in philosophy between Covelo and Luchi.  In 2022, the Quakes allowed teams to keep possession to hit them on the counter. Ebobisse thrived in this offense, so it was no surprise that he took the shots in his career.

Covelo’s offense let Ebobisse react to play and just drive to the net. Under Luchi, the Quakes possess the ball more and look to build chances. Ebobisse’s role changed from just being a finisher to a creator who had to drop off.

On the positive side, his passing numbers looked much better, as he was willing to sacrifice his positioning to create for his teammates. Across the league, Ebobisse became elite at switching the field and playing longer balls.

Photo: AP

Despite the impressive passing numbers, Ebobisse went through a 11 game drought that saw the season fall apart. The total collapse is not entirely his fault, but those 11 games saw the team draw 4 and lose 4. These were games where the team desperately needed someone to just finish a chance.

It’s not just a matter of  not getting chances, Ebobisse finished towards the bottom of the league in  terms of shots on target,with only 32.3% of his chances on target. Those shots were coming  from  some of the furthest  distance among strikers. However, the goal to shot on target ratio was elite, which suggests that his role needs to be simplified.

Ebobisse’s struggles mirrored those of his team, and they exacerbated the issues for each other. As his role changed, Ebobisse was forced to evolve in a way that hurt his production and in turn the team.


Last season ended with plenty of doom and gloom, but there’s hope things will be better. The front office clearly learned from last season now, it’s time for Luchi and his team to as well.

Not having a threatening left winger hurt the team, but specifically Ebobisse. As mentioned above, he had to play deeper and was further from goal resulting in poor shot selection. His game did become more complete, but at the cost of his goal production.

With Cowell gone, the team needs a new left wing who can take advantage of the space vacated by Ebobisse. Hoppe showed just how easy life could be for both striker and winger, by allowing both players to just be more fluid.  Luchi has to allow Ebobisse to focus on being a  threat and find a winger to create for him and Espinoza.

With that said, based on prior performances, it’s safe to see Ebobisse putting at least ten goals into the net. There’s just too much production at the top level to not see him be a positive player.

Photo: Matthew Ashton

Pushing him further up the pitch and letting others create is probably the best way to recreate the atmosphere that let him score those 17 goals in 2022. A deeper squad should help, as there will be more creators. It’s just up to Ebobisse to pick his chances better and reign in those long shots.

As the numbers have shown, Ebobisse is still an efficient striker, even if last season saw a poorer shot selection. Playing closer to goal with less dropping back to play make is the best way to fully unlock the striker. Luchi froze towards the end of last season, but when the stakes got too high, he was willing to change his system and he must do it once more to help Ebobisse.

The team needs a potent Ebobisse if they want a chance to be more than just average. A fully engaged Ebobisse may just be what pushes the Quakes over the edge.

If Espinoza is the Steph Curry of the team, Ebobisse is his Klay. A good scorer who, when asked to do more than his role, can struggle to produce. Ebobisse showed that he can become the team’s future post-Wondo, but he must return to winning ways next season.

 

Featured image:  ESPN

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