Danny Hoesen scores vs. MIN-3.4.18

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Getting used to the MLS style of play was arguably a distant second in terms of adjustments San Jose Earthquakes forward Danny Hoesen needed to make in 2017.


That’s because Hoesen welcomed his first child into the world in June. Son Damian, now nine months old, was born in the midst of Hoesen’s debut season with the Quakes, and provided a new perspective for the 27-year-old, who struggled for weeks to find his place after arriving on loan from Dutch club FC Groningen.


“It’s changed a lot,” Hoesen told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “Sometimes, you come home after a bad game or a bad practice, you come home and see his smile and all is good again.”


Hoesen hasn’t needed that kind of cheering up often so far in 2018. After an impressive preseason, the Netherlands native produced his first multi-goal performance in MLS with a brace in San Jose’s 3-2 victory against Minnesota United FC during the season’s opening week. It earned him the first Alcatel MLS Player of the Week award of the year, as voted on by the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR).


That’s a continuation of the way Hoesen ended last year. After having to fight for playing time at an unfamiliar spot on the wing, he finally put together a string of starts as a true No. 9 atop the Quakes attack to close out the regular-season schedule. Hoesen finished with three goals and an assist in San Jose’s last six games, scoring in each of the Quakes’ three victories during that stretch.


“The last five games of the season, Danny had made a case for himself,” Quakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli told MLSsoccer.com. “It definitely helps if the player knows that he can impose himself, and that is something Danny felt strongly about. He knew that with [Quakes captain Chris Wondolowski], there was an opportunity for him and Wondo to lead the attack, and he’s doing just that. They are working well together.”


So well that Wondolowski, the Golden Boot winner in 2010 and 2012, has been talking up Hoesen as a potential 2018 recipient of that award – and that was even before Hoesen placed a one-timed shot from 20 yards to beat Minnesota goalkeeper Matt Lampson in the first half and followed up after intermission with a nice give-and-go through Valeri “Vako” Qazaishvili to create separation from Jerome Thiesson and find the far post to open the season

Earthquakes' Danny Hoesen for Golden Boot? Chris Wondolowski thinks so - https://league-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/images/Hoesenglasses.jpg?RvPpNq5bqZXzmlGBtOdtvC8yqIIJaSFJ

Hoesen celebrates after scoring | USA Today Sports Images


“I think we saw it in practice from Day One; we knew that he could strike a ball, we knew he had the attributes,” Wondolowski told MLSsoccer.com. “Being a striker is a funny thing; sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t, and they weren’t falling for him early. They were at the end, and when they do start falling, I think it snowballs. As you’ve seen through the preseason this year, a couple go and they keep you going.”


That production helped show why keeping Hoesen was such an important part of San Jose’s offseason. With the loan year over, Fioranelli had to enter some “who will blink first?” negotiations with Groningen regarding the cost of securing Hoesen’s services permanently. It helped that Hoesen had made clear the Quakes, who still held his MLS rights, were his desired destination.


“I told [Groningen] this is the only club I want to go to and this is the only club that’s possible to get me,” said Hoesen, who was signed by the Quakes via Targeted Allocation Money. “And they said, ‘Well, if we don’t agree on a transfer fee, you come back and play with the second team.’ So they started threatening me a little bit, but that’s part of the game. Eventually, they changed their mind because they knew they needed the money as well and they didn’t want to keep paying my salary and [have me] play for the second team. Eventually, everybody’s happy.”


The notion of a Golden Boot contender coming from San Jose would have seemed pretty far-fetched last year, when the Quakes were limited to just 39 goals as a team. But the addition of Designated Players Vako and Magnus Eriksson in the last nine months have given San Jose more punch for new coach Mikael Stahre to deploy – including this Saturday in the Quakes’ visit to Sporting Kansas City (8:30 pm ET; TV & streaming info).


“I think it clicks more now,” Hoesen said of the attack. “Obviously, Vako came in the summer and had to get used to the league, the players as well. Training with each other every day [helps]. Magnus is a very smart player; he knows when to move, when to pass, how fast to play a ball or just to keep the ball. If you have smart players around you, it’s easier for all of us.


“Now I think we’re full of confidence. I think the players have enough experience that if a ball goes wrong or you miss a shot, just keep your head up and keep going. That’s important. Whereas last year, if we conceded a goal, you saw people like, ‘Oh no, not again.’ It just started creeping into the season. I hope this year we’re better than that.”