Earthquakes happy to rely on Danny Hoesen as Dutchman finds his feet in MLS

SAN JOSE, Calif. – When Danny Hoesen plays like this, the San Jose Earthquakes can see something greater than the .500 perch they currently occupy.

After spending years in the Netherlands as an out-and-out forward, the 26-year-old newcomer has been asked to play an unfamiliar role on the wings for San Jose. And as Hoesen has grown more comfortable with his new spot, his production has taken off accordingly – as evidenced by his opening goal and assist on Marco Ureña’s insurance strike in the Quakes’ 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

It was the second such performance in less than a month for Hoesen, who also scored and recorded an assist in a 4-2 loss to the LA Galaxy on May 27.

“I’m feeling good,” Hoesen said. “The team is making it easy for me. You practice all week and you get to know the players better, and their qualities. At the moment, I’m feeling confident, so I’m just trying to help the team, and it worked today.”

Through his first 13 league appearances, Hoesen – brought in on loan this winter from FC Groningen, with an option for the Quakes to buy – was limited to no goals and one assist as he struggled to adapt to the physical nature of MLS play.

Earthquakes happy to rely on Danny Hoesen as Dutchman finds his feet in MLS -

But with San Jose looking to end a two-match scoreless run against an RSL side that has proven porous on the road, Hoesen came through. His goal featured both hard work and inspiration, as he stretched to block an attempted clearance by Chris Wingert inside the visitors’ penalty area and then fired home past veteran goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

Hoesen has had a hand in each of San Jose’s last four goals, and his breakout performances have keyed two of the Quakes’ four multi-goal matches this year.

“It makes our team where we want to be,” Quakes captain Chris Wondolowski said of Hoesen’s success. “We feel very confident with our whole group and as you can see, we’re not at our healthiest. So it’s really nice to see guys step in and play really well, and play a game and a style that we’re capable of playing.

“I think he does a great job of picking it up in dangerous areas, and he’s got a great shot. I’m surprised any 'keepers can save them sometimes.”

Hoesen’s goal had added resonance on a day where Ureña was making his last league appearance for the Quakes before an expected Gold Cup absence with the Costa Rican national team. That will open a slot at the top of San Jose’s lineup – one that could easily be filled by Hoesen, giving him a chance to shine in his natural home and make an impression on coach Dominic Kinnear.

“We were hoping for more goals, and I think he’s got more goals in him,” Kinnear said. “Sometimes he’s looking like he’s really aggressive going forward to goal, and then sometimes he looks a bit unselfish. That may just be a confidence thing on his part, but great finish [tonight]. We’re trying to get him in positions to face the goal, because that’s when we think he’s really good.”