SAN JOSE, Calif. – Sleepless fans of the US Under-23 national team can rest easy, at least for a little while: The star of their worst nightmare is not coming to MLS anytime soon.
Yes, the San Jose Earthquakes brought in 22-year-old winger Jaime Alas – the El Salvador youth international whose last-gasp goal on Monday ended the US' Olympic qualifying dreams – for a trial last month during their preseason stint in Southern California.
No, despite breathless word coming from the Salvadoran media, Alas’ arrival in San Jose is not imminent – if it even happens at all.
“We showed interest, we like him,” Quakes head coach Frank Yallop told reporters on Thursday, three days after Alas capped a stunning 3-3 tie against the Americans with a 95th-minute strike from nearly 30 yards out, leaving the US third in a four-team group. “But we’ve not talked to the club and there’s not anything positive [in terms of talks] right now. We said we liked him, we had him in, he did well, but we’ve not pursued any more than that.”
Alas remains under contract with Salvadoran side Luis Ángel Firpo, who allowed him to spend a week with the Quakes that included a 45-minute appearance in an exhibition game against the Houston Dynamo.
“He did well,” Quakes defender Justin Morrow said of Alas. “He did really well, it’s just hard for a trialist when you’re going to play one game and that’s all you get. If you’re not scoring goals or really standing out, they’re not going to give you a longer look.”
Alas would fit in with the new direction the Quakes worked on over the winter, as the club added players meant to increase their overall speed and technical ability in midfield, including Marvin Chávez, Simon Dawkins, Tressor Moreno and Shea Salinas.
“He is a very skillful, technically gifted player,” San Jose general manager John Doyle said of Alas. “This is somebody that possesses good qualities on the ball and good work rate. He’s a well-rounded, good soccer player.”
San Jose are currently carrying a full complement of 30 players, so to sign Alas this season, they would have to make room both on the roster and create enough space under the salary cap. Since the team holds a Discovery tag on Alas – meaning that no other MLS club can reach an agreement for his services at this point – Doyle and Yallop were both happy to leave the door open a crack with regards to a summer transfer.
“He’s somebody that we keep our eye on,” Doyle said. “We’ll see how our team’s doing and how he’s doing and keep it there at the back of our mind.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.