After a long offseason of waiting, the Quakes have found their new star.
While the season feels lost, Hernán López promises a glimpse into the team’s future.

There’s a lot to like about the Argentine, but he may be the missing piece for this project.

Following the Vela debacle, many gave up on the Quakes signing a new DP. At the deadline, the Quakes surprised everyone with  López.

Since the end of last season, the front office seemed destined to find the missing DP. López fits the type of player Lietch’s office wants more than Vela—a younger midfielder who played in one of  South America’s best leagues.


On the pitch, López fits this team like a glove. Luchi’s system screams for a true number ten who can be the ultimate playmaker, unlocking the offense. There’s little doubt that he could fit this system; it’ll only be a matter of how long it takes for him to get acclimated to MLS.

Given the state of the team, it’s understandable that most gave up on this team. However, López offers a glimpse into the Quakes’ potential for better or worse.

There’s no doubt that Vela provides the star power the Quakes have lacked since the early 2000s.  It’s also true that, at this point, he’s the wrong fit, and López promises more.

The idea of Vela joining the Quakes always felt weird and seemed more of a way to force LAFC to give him a contract. Additionally, Vela never fit the type of player that Leitch wants for this side.

For his entire reign as general manager, Leitch prioritized players with experience in competitive leagues. These players also were either in their prime or the tail end of it. Yes, Vela oozes experience, but he’s not an MVP-caliber player anymore.

If the Quakes were a few pieces away from title contention, Vela is the correct choice. As anyone who’s watched them this season knows, that’s not the case. Letich’s strategy is correct and more cohesive to the long-term plan for the team.

PHOTO: Hernan Lopez

Unfortunately, the season is on total life support, and no one player can salvage this situation. López’s first season will likely be used to acclimate the player to both the league and the team. There’s still plenty of excitement surrounding Maradona’s great-nephew, but he can’t work miracles.

Should Leitch use this season to evaluate this team, only a few players feel safe. Those who gel with López should be safe, and Leitch may make some reinforcements in the summer for the 2025 season. While this is disappointing to hear, it makes more sense in the long run.

As much hope as López brings to San Jose, this is probably the first step of a new project. Fans may need to prepare for another season of pain as López settles in.

To be fair, Vela would have also fit in well with Luchi’s system. López may not be on Vela’s level but can grow to a similar level.

Plenty of players circulated through Luchi’s system over the past season as he continues to attempt to find that ten. So much of the attack depends on a creative hub under the striker who can ease things. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a reason why the attack struggles is the lack of a force that can set things up.

Monteiro probably came closest to being that ten, but played much better as a box-to-box player. Tsakiris is still young and may become that ten, but for now, he profiles better as a Monteiro replacement. Even Espinoza isn’t a perfect fit for that role, given how effective he is at initiating play out wide.

PHOTO: Godoy Cruz

While it may not be the best league in South America, the Argentinian league churns out talent. It’s a competitive league that has seen plenty of players translate success there to MLS.

Coming up through the River Plate academy, López has found success recently with Godoy Cruz. Like his grand-uncle, López is the prototypical diminutive creative midfielder that Argentina produces. While his stats weren’t otherworldly, there’s enough to suggest he’ll come good for the Quakes.

Luchi’s midfield likes to press, and López proved capable of that in Argentine, being one of the better defenders in his position. His creative numbers are encouraging, but maybe he helped with another talent like Espinoza in San Jose. That has to be the biggest plus that the Quakes have; Espinoza offers him another outlet to relieve some of the pressure.

Fans may have expected Vela, but there’s enough to suggest that López will succeed in San Jose. It will take time, but his performances in Argentina are encouraging.

As tough as it may seem, this signing will take time to come good. To no fault of his own, López can’t save this season, but he can offer the team a chance to build for next season.
For now, fans should expect to watch a talented player connect this side.


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