Grading the Quakes winter transfer window activity
PHOTO: San Jose Earthquakes, ISI Photos
In a matter of months, the San Jose Earthquakes shed two years off their median roster age, while capitalizing by adding an array of young and prime-age players.
With general manager Jesse Fioranelli titling the signing of Homegrown player Gilbert Fuentes as the “small little surprise” following a week of transfer inactivity and the club currently in the midst of preseason preparations in Arizona, all signs point to the club approaching the end of a busy, yet historically lavish transfer period.
With Allsvenskan’s co-leading goalscorer in his prime years, a 21-year-old center back from Uruguayan giant Peñarol and the addition of much needed competition and depth at left-back manager Mikael Stahre can’t really be in a better position. In addition, a fan favorite in Danny Hoesen is back on a permanent transfer and will look to better last year’s five goal mark.
By all means, it’s not what the newly-minted neighbor’s are assembling down south, but it’s more than fans would have asked for. Let’s take a closer look, and grade all the new arrivals at Avaya Stadium:
Magnus Eriksson from Djurgårdens IF, $1.4 million
2017 was an outlying year for the right-winger. With that being said, his arrival gives off the illusion that he’s got a knack for scoring goals but, in fact, his 14 goals for the Swedish side last year were his best since 2013. To be clear, Eriksson, a physical, inverted winger, will bring a deadly presence to the attack, which should ultimately increase the second-chance opportunities inside the box that lacked last season– a scenario Chris Wondolowski is far too good in.
Plenty of questioning could be made on how the 27-year-old’s ability to translate last season’s success to MLS will play out, but you can’t shoot down the club’s lucrative ambition to secure an in-form Designated Player. After all, general manager Jesse Fioranelli is currently one for one with his DP acquisitions. This time, he and Stahre will hope Eriksson’s serious potential to contribute — both in scoring goals and assisting — will come to fruition. All in all, the combination of ambition and recent success leading the motive to sign such a player is tough to view negatively.
Grade: A, the ambition is unquestionable, as is the player.
Joel Qwiberg from Brommapojkarna, Free
There is no doubt about it: Qwiberg’s signing was one of the strangest done by an MLS side this winter. The 25-year-old left-back joins San Jose after helping his Swedish second division side clinch promotion — a league probably at the level of USL. Yet a decent amount of pressure has been placed on the Swede-Colombian to fill the large void at the backline position, a job he’ll have plenty of time to do right.
If the pacey, technically sharp fullback can find room to shoot up and down the touchline and deliver on both ends of the pitch, the Quakes will gain back an element that has been missing since the departure of Justin Morrow. If not, Shea Salinas’ fullback transition will pick where it left off.
Grade: An optimistic C+, given the low-risk, high-reward sensation.
Yeferson Quintana from Peñarol, Loan
This is undisputedly another case of good business from the Quakes front office. Quintana, who at only 21 years of age has experienced the rigors of Copa Libertadores, could very much be the Black and Blue’s defensive stalwart for years to come — a vacant position following the departure of Victor Bernardez.
The Uruguayan center back exhibits a physical prowess unlike many in the league. Of course, he has only the span of season to convince the club, but even the reported $1 million option to buy isn’t very demanding. Yeferson, too, has already expressed his desire to earn a permanent switch once the season culminates, initiating the relationship with flying colors.
Grade: A -, the loanee tag makes it all so much better.
Danny Hoesen from Groningen FC, $100k
The return of Danny… It seems all supporters were in agreement to bring back the Dutch forward but now the question becomes: will he find constant playing time under Stahre?
The 2017 campaign wasn’t prolific for Hoesen, but his game-deciding goals tipped everyone to his favor. This season, more productivity — than 5 goals and assist — will be asked from the former Groningen forward as Simon Dawkins and Quincy Amarikwa return to the stacked mix. But even then, to have Hoesen, 27, onboard permanently as a TAM player is a breath of fresh air.
Eric Calvillo from New York Cosmos, Undisclosed
A former U.S. youth regular and NASL mainstay, Calvillo, is a product of the youthful transformation the Quakes took on this winter. During his two years in NASL, the Palmdale-native showed glimpses that convinced many that he’s more than a touted youngster.
The midfielder has the skill to register minutes right away. But given the current depth at the No. 8 role, Calvillo will have to really convince the technical staff in order to consisently crack into the bench come match day. If not, Reno can highly benefit from his high work rate and box-to-box abilities.
Grade: B –
Chris Wehan from Reno 1868 FC, Undisclosed
Wehan joins San Jose as last season’s USL’s assist leader and Rookie of the Year; historically, that translates poorly to MLS.
However, when it comes to constructing the deepest parts of a roster in this league, it’s much better to pen in-form, domestic and economical feasible players than an out of rhythm international.
Jimmy Ockford from Reno 1868 FC, Undisclosed
The Quakes needed to add depth at the center back position following the heartfelt departure of Andres Imperiale. Ockford’s signing does just that and takes the Reno/Quakes partnership to a legitimate level.
Of course, the 25-year-old, who has MLS experience, won’t be called on for much, but can potentially get a pair of chances down the season.
Grade: C –
Luis Felipe Fernandes from Reno 1868 FC, Undisclosed
The midfielder is not a Maxwell, Lucas Silva-esque Cruzeiro academy product by any means, but he proved last season that his quality is a step above USL. The two-footed, Brasilian-American midfielder found the back of the net five times and contributed three assists in 27 games for Reno in 2017.
Far more impressive were his abilities to easily connect the defense and attack from a deep-lying position. The 22-year-old should have been in an MLS environment ahead of his professional debut in 2016. The only downside to his signature is the high possibility of limited playing time.
Grade: B –
JT Marcinkowski from Georgetown, Free
This one probably didn’t take much thought. Marcinkowski’s shot-stopping abilities can’t be overlook and neither can his ceiling — reason he earned over 20 caps at the United States’ youth levels.
Unless earning the back-up role to Andrew Tarbell, the 20-year-old has the abilities to flourish as a premier USL ‘keeper.
Gilbert Fuentes and Jacob Akanyirige from Academy, Free
The singing of Akanyirige was unforeseeable to say the least, while Fuentes’ makes more sense given the attention he was starting to call on himself following stellar performances at the U.S. U-15 level.
With that being said, both signings have a unique value in being truly the first of the club’s kind. Only time will tell how each will unfold, but what is set in stone is the club’s developing ambition for their youth pipeline.
Grade: B +, with a grading template of its own.
Fees per Transfermarkt where not otherwise stated.