SAN JOSE, Calif. – It took a couple of weeks for San Jose Earthquakes newcomer Yannick Djaló to get his visa paperwork properly processed.
On Saturday against the New England Revolution (10:30 pm ET; MLS Live), Quakes fans are likely to see just what the hotly anticipated Portuguese winger can bring to the club.
“I’d say we’re hopeful he will play some part of the game,” San Jose coach Mark Watson told reporters after training Friday.
This week marked the first time Djaló has finally had a full block of training with the Quakes, whose busy match schedule this month has scrambled and often truncated their practice routine. That could mean an MLS debut off the bench for the 27-year-old, who arrived earlier this month on a one-year loan from Portuguese side Benfica.
“I feel very good, I feel very comfortable here,” Djaló told MLSsoccer.com Friday via a translator. “It’s a great group of people that welcomed me very easily. I feel like a good part of the group, so it’s easy to integrate into this team. …
"You need time to know the movements of your teammates and how they interact on the field. This week’s been great to be able to do that, to get our coordination down and understand how each other play.”
Djaló could provide a large boost to a San Jose offense that has been relying heavily on set-piece domination to this point, with four of the Quakes’ five goals in all competitions coming via restarts.
San Jose midfielder Sam Cronin expected the speed and quickness of Djaló, given his success at 5-foot-6 and 140 pounds, but he said the quality was still eye-opening to see up close.
“He’s going to be a really dynamic, attacking player for us,” Cronin told MLSsoccer.com this week. “I know he’s a player that can create and score goals, so we expect a lot of him and so far in training, he’s been great. …
"The variety of goals he was scoring – he was scoring some ones from deep, putting them in the top corner, but then getting really clinical, just passing the ball past the goalie, in and around the box. I’m going to be excited to see the types of goals he scores this year and the range that he has.”
Shea Salinas, San Jose’s left winger, might stand to gain the most space from Djaló’s addition to the attack. Salinas has been seeing defenses start to bend more sharply to his side of the field, something that Djaló’s presence will likely preclude.
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“He’s got a great first touch that usually eliminates the defender, which is impressive,” Salinas told MLSsoccer.com this week. “I usually have to trap the ball and use a few touches to dribble [past] a guy. His first touch is great, and then he’s got the speed to keep the defender eliminated. … I know he’s going to help us out a ton offensively.”
In addition to Djaló’s debut, the Quakes might also see new or returning faces elsewhere. Usual left back Jordan Stewart (right hamstring strain) has been upgraded to questionable, joining right-back candidates Brandon Barklage (left hip tightness) and Andreas Görlitz (right calf strain) on that level.
“That’s a possibility,” Watson said of seeing some of that group against the Revolution. “We wanted to get through today and see how they felt. [Barklage and Görlitz] are getting close. It’s been a process where we obviously want them back as quick as possible, but we want to make sure we’re doing the correct things so that when they come back, they don’t have any lingering issues.”