Darren Huckerby from MLSNET.com
Today’s last minute victory over the hated Galaxy in Oakland could be just the push the Earthquakes needed to make a playoff run late in the MLS season. The Quakes who have played solidly much of the season but lacked a scoring punch have now made the type of moves in the international and domestic transfer market that solidify the club as potentially very dangerous in MLS. But why is an expansion team so eager to win now?
Let’s review how we got here:
- San Jose has a weak Expansion Draft, passing on Dominic Oduro and Francis Doe in favor of Clarence Goodson and Joe Vide among others.
- The Quakes then trade the first overall pick in this years draft to obtain Nick Garcia, a good short term move but clearly a move with one or two seasons in mind. The same for the acquisitions of Joe Cannon and Ronnie O’Brien.
- Ramiro Corrales returns from Europe and signs to play with the Earthquakes. The presence of Corrales and O’Brien in the same midfield gives the Quakes despite being typically expansion team like at other spot on the pitch two very technical midfield players.
- Peugero Jean Phillipe comes back to MLS on loan from Bronby and is assigned to San Jose. What would have been a solid pickup blows up in the Quakes face when after a few games he gets injured for the season.
- The Quakes sign two of the best foreign players this season to come from Europe to the MLS: Darren Huckerby and Francisco Lima. Both have lots of top flight European experience. San Jose then trades two internationals, Kei Kamara, and Ivan Guerrero, both solid players but also players still part of their national team setup and who will suffer from MLS’ policy of playing through international breaks.
- San Jose trades for the volatile Arturo Alvarez who played for the former incarnation of the Quakes for three years. Alvarez today scored a goal on his return to the Bay Area.
So with Darren Huckerby, Arturo Alvarez, Francisco Lima, Ramiro Corrales and Ronnie O’Brien it would be difficult to find a more technical and talented midfield which is also loaded with experience in MLS than the Quakes. Considering how solid Joe Cannon and Nick Garcia have been all year and the re-emergence of Eric Denton as a solid left sided defender, the Quakes are a deadly finisher away from having as strong of a starting eleven as anyone in the league outside of Houston, New England and possibly Real Salt Lake.
Has my season long optimism about the Quakes been misplaced? All year long as I’ve articulated on the American Soccer Show and on this blog, I’ve seen what Frank Yallop and John Doyle were building and have given them the benefit of the doubt about the long term goals. Now it appears all the wheeling and dealing has left the Quakes with one of the better teams on paper in the league. I’m anxious to hear from our readers what they think of the Quakes going forward.