Two weeks ago, San Jose Earthquakes president Dave Kaval came out and said the team needed another attacker in midfield. Today, his team introduced diminutive Argentine No. 10 Matias Perez Garcia, a DP whose arrival seems to accelerate the shift away from the long-ball, Route 1 tactics that have defined the club for the past 18 months.
And now it means the Quakes are about to attempt the nearly impossible: Rebuild their midfield, change the way they create chances, and win a bunch of games all while trying desperately to fight their way into the Western Conference playoff picture.
Thus it looks like the Bash Brothers era in San Jose is coming to a close. Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon just haven't been as effective as they were in 2012 – injury and age, respectively, having caught up to the pair. The 'Quakes maybe, just maybe found a different way of attacking in last Wednesday's 5-1 demolition of the Chicago Fire.
They started Chris Wondolowski (not a target forward) and Yannick Djalo (definitely not a target forward) up top together, with Wondo drifting all across the backline and Djalo popping up in spots generally between the central defense and central midfield, a la Columbus maestro Federico Higuain. Combine their movement with the Fire's high line, and this was exactly the sort of attacking demolition the scoreline suggested.
As good as the Quakes looked, though, that game has to be taken with a grain of salt, because the Fire were awful (they made big changes for their next game out, last night's scoreless draw vs. Vancouver). A better team wouldn't have allowed Wondo's movement to bother them so much, and wouldn't have allowed Djalo to find those pockets of space, and would have forced the other guys on the field to do more of the creative work.
That's where Garcia comes in.
There's only so much you can learn from one play, but this is fairly representative of Garcia's role throughout his career. He's a true midfielder who stays deep, prefers to get on the ball out wide and then cut inside onto his stronger foot.
Don't think of him as a No. 10 in the way that Higuain or Javier Morales are -- he's not a pure chance creator, and he'll never come close to leading the league in assists. Garcia will be more of a combination of Sporting KC's Benny Feilhaber, whose primary duty is to control the tempo of the game, and Chicago's Harry Shipp, who spends most of his time on the flank, then cuts in to create overloads and subsequent in possession.
Garcia, in other words, will make it easier to build the primary attack through Djalo while picking up a fair share of creative duties himself. He'll provide variety for a team that's lacked it.
And that could be just enough to get them back into the postseason.