Alanis, the Quakes' new central defender, was mainly brought in to keep goals out of his own net. But in San Jose's 2-2 draw against Toronto FC in their season-opener, it was Alanis who wound up playing the hero role, salvaging the draw for the home side with a highlight-reel goal off a scorching free kick from the right flank in second-half stoppage time. It was one of the best goals of the Week 1 slate, and made for an ideal start to the 30-year-old defender's MLS career.
It may have seemed like a strange decision to attempt a shot (rather than a cross) from that angle, especially with a point on the line, but Alanis made it clear that it was always part of the plan on set pieces from that part of the field.
“It’s a play that’s practiced,” he told MLS Espanol this week. “Last week we were were working with that approach from Matias; I’ve known him for a while and we already know that he likes those types of shots. The ball is going to go on frame, and if a teammate can touch it on, good. And if not, it goes in directly. Yes, it’s something that we practice, and fortunately it turned out well.”
The Mexican international defender, who joined the Earthquakes from Mexican powerhouse Chivas at the end of January and turns 31 on March 18, expressed the hope that his debut goal would be the start of something even better for him and his new team.
“I want to achieve great things with San Jose and on a personal level, too. One always hopes to do well, and one always hopes to score a goal,” he explained to MLS Español. “Like any other player, although being a defender the possibility is lower. I didn’t expect it that way, but that’s good. It surprises me a little bit, but you have to prepare for good things to come.”
It was also a great start to Alanis' reunion with Almeyda, whom he played under in Liga MX when the current San Jose coach manned the sidelines for Chivas from 2015-2018. Alanis said when he spoke with Almeyda about a move to the MLS side early in the offseason, he was sold on his vision for the club and welcomed the opportunity to play for him again.
“We were in contact months ago, and I always said to him, I have told him: at the end, what we want is to continue enjoying football, and with them [Almeyda and his assistants] — because of their way of being and their way of assembling teams, and because of the treatment they give you as a player — you feel something positive and you enjoy it,” he said. “So, yes. I wanted to return to work with them, and because of that I decided to come and I’m here. And to be able to repay that confidence they are showing me.”