San Jose Earthquakes
- San Jose Earthquakes
- Western Conference
- Home: Avaya Stadium
- MLS CUP: 2001, 2003
- Supporters' Shield: 2005, 2012
After a year back in his old stomping grounds, it's an obvious question: has San Jose coach Dominic Kinnear remade the Earthquakes in his preferred on-field image?
Well, that depends on what you think "a Dominic Kinnear team" looks like.
"At the beginning with San Jose and Houston, we were run-and-gun with Dwayne (De Rosario) and those guys," said Kinnear, who first took over the Quakes in 2004 before moving with the franchise to Houston two years later. "But then we were always accused of being dirty and thuggish …
"'Hard-working,' I think, is one of those [descriptors] that always sticks with us. Organized. I like a team that likes to play forward quick."
Forward Chris Wondolowski (L) and Midfielder Anibal Godoy
Kinnear has not made wholesale changes to San Jose's roster since replacing Mark Watson, but a few key moves stand out: drafting Fatai Alashe and the additions last summer of fellow midfielders Anibal Godoy and Marc Pelosi has given Kinnear three possibilities to rotate into the two spots he prefers to use as the base of his midfield operations.
Godoy, the 26-year-old Panamanian international, has been especially influential; San Jose went 7-10-5 to start the season, but were 6-3-3 after Godoy's arrival. His second MLS match became what Kinnear called "our best game of the season, by a mile," a 5-0 road stomping of Sporting Kansas City on August 19.
Perhaps the best indicator of Kinnear's influence is this: Where Watson's 2014 squad suffered through a franchise-worst 15-match winless streak which sapped the locker-room mood, last year's Quakes had only one game in which they were mentally out of a game – a 5-2 defeat at LA Galaxy.
"I said this probably 100 times last year: I want to be competitive, every game," Kinnear said. "What does that mean? It means you're giving yourself a chance to win."
For Kinnear to pick up his third MLS Cup, it's a good look to have.
Armchair Analyst's Take
Grit and grind, toil and struggle, and win a lot of games. Or at least don’t lose many.
That’s what I expect from the Quakes this season, their second under Kinnear. There were growing pains last year, including a host of different formations, a host of injuries, a rotation of target forward partners for Wondo, and – eventually – stability.
It came in the shape of a 4-4-2 with Godoy bossing the midfield and Quincy Amarikwa carving a #9-shaped path up top, and it resulted in a late-season push for a playoff spot that came up just short. But I look at this Quakes group and see a roster that’s at least five points better than last season on attack, and should remain rock solid in defense (so long as Goodson & Bernardez don’t run face-first into Father Time).
This isn’t going to be pretty, sexy football, but I will wager a body part that it’s effective.
Key Offseason Transactions
KEY PLAYERS IN:
KEY PLAYERS OUT:
<a href="//www.mlssoccer.com/players/chad-barrett">Chad Barrett</a><br><a href="//www.mlssoccer.com/players/simon-dawkins">Simon Dawkins</a><br><a href="//www.mlssoccer.com/players/andres-imperiale">Andres Imperiale</a><br><a class="small" href="//www.mlssoccer.com/topic/transactions">All transactions</a>
Leandro Barrera<br> Jean - Baptiste Pierazzi<br> Paulo Renato
Player to Watch: Anibal Godoy
The arrival of 26-year-old defensive midfielder Godoy helped drive a shutout streak of 447 minutes, the longest in MLS last season.
Bingham; Wynne - Bernardez - Goodson - Francis; Salinas - Godoy - Dawkins - Perez Garcia; Amarikwa - Wondolowski
San Jose is a team that offers fantasy managers a lot of potential value thanks to the low cost of many of their top players, especially midfielders like Shea Salinas ($8.5m) and Matias Pérez García ($8.0m). They have also provided Quincy Amarikwa ($7.5m) with a system where he can shine, and that is sure to help his points this year.
- Andres Imperiale
- Simon Dawkins
- Chad Barrett