How The Quakes Could Land Panamanian Wonderkid Ismael Díaz

Multiple reports out of Panama have indicated that the Earthquakes are interested in signing 20 year old Panamanian forward Ismael Díaz. The technically gifted attacking player just finished a season on loan with FC Porto B, where he has scored 15 goals and notched 10 assists in 58 appearances. Díaz also has 7 caps for the Panama senior national team with two goals, including one in this year’s Gold Cup.

Some technicalities to note about Díaz if the Quakes were to sign him:

  • Díaz is an international player that would take up an international roster slot, of which the Quakes only have 8. By my count, the Quakes currently have 12 international players.
    • Dawkins, Godoy, Hoesen, Hyka, Imperiale, Jungwirth, Urena, Vako, and Affolter (9, all of which take up international slots on the roster)
    • Harold Cummings (1, does not take up an international slot because he is on the season ending injury list)
    • Mfeka and Silva (2, do not take up international slots because they are on loan at Reno)
  • This means a couple of things – the Earthquakes still need to acquire an international slot in order to sign Francois Affolter, who has began training with the first team. Chris Leitch alluded to some technicality holding up Affolter joining the team officially in the press conference after the Quakes defeated the Rapids at home 1-0, and my guess (and keep in mind it is a total guess) is that international slots is what is holding it up.
  • There are 12 other teams that have open international slots, so the Quakes could easily get a rental on one of them this year. They can either acquire an additional international slot through a trade, or trade away a player that is taking up an international slot to make room for him.
  • Diaz’s annualized salary this year would be half of what it would be in any other year of his contract. This is because he would be joining the Quakes midseason, and this is very important because it could potentially make the whole process a lot easier.
  • Díaz would qualify to be a “young designated player,” meaning that his cap hit would only be $150,000 no matter how much they pay him. The Quakes currently have all three DP slots filled, so they would be forced to either move one out, or buy down the cap hit of one of their contracts to a non-DP level using General Allocation Money.
  • The current Football Manager database has Díaz making around $160,000 a year at the moment. Based on this information, it is very possible that the Quakes could sign him to a non-DP deal.
  • This report suggests that a fee of $3 million would be required to acquire Díaz, which means that he is going to be an expensive buy. The fee could be what pushes the contract over to a DP-level.

Some Possibilities:

  • I don’t foresee the Quakes trading away Godoy, Hoesen, Hyka, Imperiale, Jungwirth, Urena, or Vako and Affolter (for obvious reasons), so the only realistic possibility in my opinion is Dawkins getting a fresh start somewhere else. If Simon Dawkins  sold back to an English club, the Quakes would still need to acquire an additional international slot, and then use the empty DP slot to help pay the transfer fee in installments and sign Díaz as a young DP.
  • The Quakes use around $400,000 of GAM to buy down either Wondo or Dawkins’ cap hits to non-DP levels, trade for a pair of  international slots for Affolter and Díaz, and use the empty DP-slot to pay the transfer fee in installments and sign Díaz as a young DP.
  • The Quakes pay the transfer fee up front, trade for a pair of  international slots, and avoid the DP contract by paying him a lower (potentially TAM-level) wage.

The Most Realistic Possibility:

  • The Quakes sign Díaz and instantly loan him for Reno for the rest of the season so that he doesn’t take up an international slot. I strongly believe that Díaz will not be signed to a DP contract this year, simply because the Quakes can use that slot in better ways. Díaz isn’t necessarily first team quality just yet. Time in Reno would not only give him more time to develop, but it would also mean that the Quakes would only have to acquire one additional international slot for Francois Affolter.

It is going to take a good amount of moving parts to sign Ismael Díaz, but it is hard to pass up on a player of his potential. This would be a marquee signing in San Jose Earthquakes history, and it would have the potential to be a marquee signing in Major League Soccer history.

Anay Patel

I have been a lifelong Quakes fan, and founded Quakes Epicenter in November of 2014. I have been credentialed to cover the Quakes since the 2015 season, and currently serves as the lead editor of the website. Outside of the Quakes, I am currently a student at the University of Southern California studying Computer Science and Business Administration.

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