San Jose Earthquakes 2017 Review
2017 didn’t really go according to plan for anyone with the San Jose Earthquakes. With a new GM taking so long to bring into town, the were forced to build the roster on light-speed. Dumping Dom Kinnear in the middle of the season, while in playoff position provided another twist. If it hadn’t been for FC Dallas’ collapse, the Quakes likely wouldn’t have found themselves in the postseason for the first time since 2012. Despite that, what looked like a 2-3 year turnaround project seemed a lot closer with Marco Urena’s dramatic stoppage time winner on Decision Day that sent them into the playoffs at FC Dallas’ expense with seconds to spare. They weren’t able to do much beyond that though, thanks to their (almost) league-worst defensive record.
The San Jose Earthquakes have made a lot of additions to their team this offseason, including a brand new head coach in Mikael Stahre. That might be one of the biggest additions this offseason. Along with Stahre, the ‘Quakes brought in two more Swedes in Joel Qwiberg and Magnus Eriksson.
Qwiberg is a 25 year old left back with a motor that never stops, plus a knack for getting into the attack. Eriksson was the Swedish Alsvenskan’s golden boot winner in 2017 with 14 goals and 7 assists. Eriksson is on a DP Contract giving the Earthquakes technically four DP.
They also brought in Danny Hoesen on a permanent transfer after last year’s successful loan deal. Hoesen bagged 8 goals and five assists in a little over two thousand minutes in all competitions while on loan with the ‘Quakes in 2017.
Their likely final transaction of the offseason in terms of bringing players in, was the acquisition of talented Uruguayan center-back, Yefferson Quintana. Quintana comes in on a one year loan deal with an option to buy for $1 million. The 21-year-old center-back towers at 6’4” and has played roughly two thousand minutes in his young career with Uruguayan giants, Penarol.
In terms of players out, four big names said goodbye to the ‘Quakes after the 2017 season. Victor Bernardez didn’t have his contract renewed after his contract option was declined. Andres Imperiale was going to re-sign but has moved to a club in Uruguay to be closer to his family after a family health complication arose this offseason. David Bingham is officially gone, and will play with the LA Galaxy in 2018, likely as their starting keeper. The other LA team now has Marco Urena on the roster as he was selected in the MLS Expansion draft by LAFC. Most other exits were relatively insignificant.
Expected/Predicted Starting XI Picture
Stahre’s teams tend to not have much consistency in terms of lineups and formations, as they switch that up based on opponents strengths. However, he played most of his games in a variation of a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1. Their overall identity and playing style however, never changed. Defense first, and build into the attack from there. In their first pre-season match, they gave their “first choice” crew a run for 30 minutes in a 4-2-2-2. I could entirely see them in a 4-4-2 diamond as well, and being successful with that. So who knows. It’s hard to say right now what they’re going to do, but my best guess is they’d run something like this to start:
It’s hard to predict what they’re going to do. But in general, Stahre’s teams press to win the ball back, and do their best to be defensively sound. Their attack builds from their defense. He has a history of having teams with resolute defenses while still having creative and productive attacks. In the attack his teams seem to work the ball wide and then into the area.
A two striker system might suit this, but truthfully, this style of play works well for players like Chris Wondolowski, and for the wingers as well. It will be interesting to see if they run a two or one striker system, but expect Wondo to be the central striker. He won’t be as heavily relied upon as a creative force this year though. The ball will likely flow through the wings and into the central area, so I’d buy high on the front three of the Quakes, whoever that will be. BK Hacken’s front three accounted for 40 goals and 22 assists across five players with the most appearances in the front three. Their regular “number ten” bumped that assist number up to 29 across all competitions.
Stahre’s teams tend to work in a 6 defensive player mold, with attacking fullbacks (Nick Lima and Qwiberg are definitely that), and 4 players dedicated to the attack with holding mids picking and choosing their times to get forward. I would be wary of buying into anyone on the ‘Quakes backline right away, just because it is going to be a very new look that most aren’t sure. But that front four, you should feel safe to buy into depending on price. They could very well be some cheaper, productive options to help fill out your team. Across all formations they scored more than they conceded last year, so it would be a safe bet to buy into some of the attack.
Closing Fantasy Thoughts
The San Jose Earthquakes expect to be in the postseason in 2018. They expect to be a lot better defensively, and to be productive enough in the attack. They will be a well disciplined in defense, and creative in attack. That’s the staple of Stahre sides. They do expect to build on what happened in 2017 and fix some of the problems. They’ve done a good job of smartly filling their areas of need, and this team should look to be a team ready to do battle.
There was rumor that some “cancerous players” in the locker-room were causing issues that led to some rough patches, and unconnected play. It seems like those issues have gone with the roster turnover.
Going into 2017, there were still so many questions surrounding the ‘Quakes. In 2018, there is high expectations and hype around the fanbase, that the team can build on its playoff appearances. The front office and ownership is committed to spending decent money to build a winner in the Bay Area. The Earthquakes have had a history of selling off after success, (2010, 2012 and 2013). This time, they went out and added to what made them successful in 2017, so the hype surrounding the 2018 season is truly genuine.
Players To Avoid: Most of the back-line
Godoy is probably one of the best midfielders in the league for the price you’d get him at, and it would be a smart investment if you wanted to save more money for a top goalscorer. Godoy is going to be freed up a bit to roam with the movement of Jungwirth to the midfield this season. Jungwirth will take over the cover and hold responsibilities, allowing Godoy to excel in his Box 2 Box Role.
Vako was very good once he got into shape last year, and will be a big boost to the Quakes goalscoring efforts. Wondo could be expensive, but he had one of his best seasons last year since his 2012 record breaking year. He provided more assists last year than ever before in his career, which is something that might come even more with the attacking talent around him being raised yet again.