Luchi intro presser

The San Jose Earthquakes’ future has direction after the Western Conference club hired Luchi Gonzalez on Wednesday as their next head coach. The US men’s national team assistant will take over for the 2023 MLS campaign following his duties surrounding the FIFA 2022 World Cup.

That’s a strong first step, Charlie Davies argued on Extratime. But now more is needed, the longtime American striker added, and it starts with ownership supporting Gonzalez in the transfer market.

“If you're going to invest in the squad, then let me go out and start getting some big-time players because they have the potential to be incredible,” Davies said. “Who wouldn't want to live in northern California? A gorgeous stadium, a beautiful backyard.

“I think for San Jose, you've got to have direction. That's all that they need. They need direction and to start to spend money in the right way. You don't have to spend $20, $30 million but go out and get some real players with real potential that you can build around.”

Why Luchi Gonzalez is the right fit for San Jose Earthquakes

For his part, in introductory interviews, Gonzalez said there have been assurances from ownership. Now it’s about wishes turning into reality for Gonzalez, who made back-to-back Audi MLS Cup Playoffs appearances while leading FC Dallas from 2019 through his September 2021 dismissal.

As Extratime’s Andrew Wiebe argued, it means San Jose “spend money and spend it wisely” as the club transitions out of three-plus years of having Matias Almeyda at the helm (2019 to April 2022). Interim head coach Alex Covelo has steadied the ship since the Argentine’s tactics and signings heavily influenced the Quakes’ direction in recent years.

“I don't think Luchi would have gone into the opportunity with the same status quo that he had in Dallas,” Wiebe said. “He would walk in there and say, 'Are you going to support me?' To be fair, they did support Matias Almeyda as well. They gave Matias Almeyda a lot of the things he wanted. Their spend wasn't at the bottom of the league, the Quakes. So it’s if they keep it going and they're a little bit more targeted, more strategic.”

Davis Gass contended there are pieces for San Jose to build around, ranging from striker Jeremy Ebobisse and goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski to wide attackers Cade Cowell and Cristian Espinoza. But there are roster-centric questions beyond that, Gass argued, leading to a big winter ahead for Gonzalez and general manager Chris Leitch.

Undoubtedly, part of that direction will be leaning on San Jose’s growing academy pipeline that’s spearheaded by Cowell, US youth international midfielder Cruz Medina and more. Gonzalez, previously the FC Dallas academy director, is an ideal fit there as he’s helped develop some of the top American players abroad and in MLS.

“I think it's a flag in the ground saying, 'We want to be a Dallas and a Philly and a New York Red Bulls,’” Gass argued. “They've gone out and gotten one of the best academy directors in the history of MLS, or one of the best youth coaches in the history of this country. And then a coach who's coached at a first-team level, made the playoffs twice and still helped sell Tanner Tessmann to Serie A and Bryan Reynolds to Roma and developed Weston McKennie and Jesus Ferreira.”

Shaping the hire, San Jose have made two playoff appearances from 2013-21. They’re 13th in the Western Conference table this year, trending toward another postseason-less season.

For more from Extratime analysis, check out their full episode here.