Earthquakes Signing Henok Goitom Compares His Experiences in Europe to San Jose
After acquiring midfielder Darwin Ceren in a trade with Orlando City SC, San Jose Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear made his intent to sign an attacking player next clear. He said that the Quakes were in the market for a forward available on free transfer as soon as possible, and it seems that they have found their man. Last Wednesday, the Earthquakes finalized and announced the signing of Henok Goitom using targeted allocation money. The deal is rumored to be a 6 month contract with a 1 year club option at the end of the year.
“My agent contacted me about this place and told me that it would be a good opportunity to play some good football,” Goitom said to media following a training session on Thursday. “And also because I want to see what the United States is all about.”
31 year old Henok Goitom is an Eritrean-Swedish center forward, and is seemingly the perfect partner up top for Chris Wondolowski. Goitom is a threat in the air, standing 6’2″, but is also technically gifted with his feet and scores a lot of goals on the ground. Goitom spent the majority of his career either playing in La Liga or the Segunda Division in Spain, but returned to his hometown club AIK in Allsvenskan in 2012. Goitom does not have an extensive history of injuries, and has been a consistent goal scorer throughout his career, which is exactly what the Earthquakes are in need of right now. Besides Chris Wondolowski, the Quakes’ leading goal scorer is Alberto Quintero with just three goals.
“I don’t think so much about goals, I think about doing the next action very well,” Goitom said when asked what he felt his role was on the pitch. “Hopefully I will be in a position to score goals, or someone else will be in a good position to score. I like to help teammates a lot in situations so we can score goals.”
Goitom has spent his entire career overseas in Europe. Throughout his career, Goitom has scored 1 goal in 1 appearance in Serie A, 39 goals in 93 appearances in Allsvenskan, 14 goals in 109 appearances in La Liga, and 29 goals in 100 appearances in the Segunda Division.
When asked about the European perception of the sport in American Goitom said, “We know that they call it soccer here. It is not the biggest sport in the United States. It’s like a ‘B’ Sport. That’s the picture we have of the United States in Europe.” But Goitom feels that their judgements may be misguided. “When they [the Earthquakes and MLS] told me that the stadium is sold out, and that they have a lot of fans, I thought maybe the European perception of the sport here is a little ignorant.”
“I want to see what the United States is all about. I think in Europe we probably have the wrong picture about the football here,” Goitom continued. “So I think that coming here I can learn more about the culture. Football in the United States has developed a lot over the past years.”
Goitom also pointed out a notable difference in the reception he has received in San Jose. “People are super friendly. I think this is the most friendly welcome I have got in my whole career. People who work in the club, and also the players, coaching staff, and medical staff.” Goitom also mentioned that the attitude players in Europe have to new signings is much more different to what he observed in San Jose. “The first day I compared the welcoming here by the players to in Europe, in Europe they are more aggressive. When a new guy comes in it is more of a competitive thing,” he said. “Here, it is also competitive, but people are also very friendly. That way, I think we can communicate better and get more points for the team.”
First impressions of San Jose were very good for Goitom. “I like it a lot,” Goitom said of brand new Avaya Stadium. “We had a similar stadium in Sweden, and got a lot of noise when the fans were there. They told me that it is always sold out, so it will be nice to have my first game there next week. I’ve seen on social media that the fans are very passionate about the team here in San Jose.”
“The only way to get the best picture [of soccer in the US] is to be a part of it. Football is for everybody, that’s why I love the sport.”