Doyle: Trades bring competition, stability to Earthquakes
San Jose Earthquakes general manager John Doyle will be the first to admit that he has high expectations for the 2011 edition of his team.
So when the Quakes limped into this week with a record below .500 and no wins in more than a month, Doyle didn’t hesitate to embark on some July renovations, pulling the trigger Thursday morning on a deal that brought a three-fold infusion of new blood from Toronto FC.
San Jose received forward Alan Gordon, midfielder Jacob Peterson and defender Nana Attakora in exchange for forward Ryan Johnson, allocation money and an international player slot.
It’s a deal that brings three potential starters to the Quakes and, Doyle hopes, will breed greater competition in practice — something that carries over into matches after San Jose have been shut out in four of their last five MLS games.
“We haven’t been happy with the performances, the three ties at home, the game at Chivas [a 2-0 defeat on July 6],” Doyle told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Thursday evening. “We got a forward, a midfielder and a defender. It puts pressure on everybody.”
All three players were guys that the Quakes had been asking about for months, if not years, but the deal came together in its finalized format over the last two weeks.
“It’s the midpoint of the season and other teams are making decisions on players, based on their performances and results, so players who were never available before are coming available,” Doyle said. “When we saw they were willing to do something with Ryan, then we went forward from there.”
In addition to depth throughout the roster, the trade addresses what has been San Jose’s most pressing problem this season: right midfield. Peterson is expected to get first crack at providing some stability in a position that has been a merry-go-round all year, with a half-dozen different players earning starts at one time or another.
Doyle is hoping that Peterson — a player he coveted back to the 25-year-old’s days with the Colorado Rapids — will solve all the swirling doubts after recovering from a torn ACL suffered, ironically, against San Jose in September 2009.
“We’ve been looking for a right midfielder, been playing a lot of players there and no one has stood out for us,” Doyle said. “He had an ACL almost two years ago, and we wanted to see how he did. He’s been great this season. ... We know he’s a quality player, has good service and can get behind people. He can deliver a good ball, is good on the ball and has a high work rate.”
The deal reunites Gordon with the Quakes’ Frank Yallop, who coached Gordon on the LA Galaxy in 2006 and ’07. It gives San Jose, who acquired Steven Lenhart this winter, a second legitimate target forward, although it remains to be seen if Yallop would pair the two bruisers, given his affinity for playing either Simon Dawkins or Chris Wondolowski as a withdrawn forward that roams underneath their strike partners.
“Frank thinks a ton of Alan Gordon, and we thought if we ever had a chance to acquire him, we would,” Doyle said. “He’s similar to Lenhart: a handful up front, a big strong guy who can score goals.”
Attakora, who has to receive a P-1 visa before he can be cleared to play for San Jose, will provide another young center back, replacing the recently dealt Brandon McDonald.
Doyle said he had no qualms about Attakora’s up-and-down season, which included being dropped from TFC’s starting lineup for nearly two months for what the player said was a reaction to his unwillingness to sign a contract extension with the team.
Quakes assistant Mark Watson, who served with the Canandian national team system through 2009, has a solid relationship with Attakora and vouched for him.
While Doyle said that San Jose are “not finished” and pointed out that the club “has room to make moves” under the salary cap, the Quakes will wait at least a week to see how the new additions will mesh with the existing roster before deciding what other actions to take during the summer transfer window.
“You expect that they’re going to have an impact on the team, give the team a boost,” Doyle said. “For sure, that’s something that we’re counting on.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes