Jesse Fioranelli - San Jose Earthquakes

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes might have closed the book on their 2017 season. All the doors at Avaya Stadium, however, are wide-open and waiting for new faces to join the fold.

“We want to reinforce every line inside of our roster and have a very balanced approach as to where we draw this talent from, whether it comes from abroad, comes from [USL affiliate] Reno, comes from Homegrowns,” Quakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli told reporters days after San Jose’s season ended in a 5-0 loss to Vancouver in the Knockout Round of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs.

Both Fioranelli and coach Chris Leitch were unwilling to discuss specific names of targets or even players expected to depart, although the latter group could easily include the likes of goalkeeper David Bingham, winger Cordell Cato and Designated PlayerSimon Dawkins, none of whom played for San Jose after Aug. 5.

“We have done a lot of scouting and we are in a very good position to make those signings in the next two months, one at a time and very, very carefully,” Fioranelli said. “And as much as we care about the signing, we care about integration of the players, so that we head into the new season with even more confidence.”

San Jose seemed to be duplicating their efforts last winter when they signed Costa Rican international Marco Ureña, but then inked another forward, Danny Hoesen, from the Netherlands. But the duo combined to play 3,604 minutes – often splitting time up top after Leitch took over midway through the season – and provided a total of 10 goals and eight assists. And the fact that they were often going head-to-head to start in front of Chris Wondolowski was not seen as a negative.

“We like competition inside of our locker room,” Fioranelli said. “We like the fact that players throughout the season have increasingly stepped up and played an integral role in having an open communication with each other and realizing that, at times, it was necessary we got to know each other a little better and confronted some of the challenges that we had to confront.”

San Jose cast themselves as scrappy counterparts to the flashier MLS sides, and that identity will inform Fioranelli’s search in the upcoming months.

“Whoever is going to join us would have to be a perfect fit,” Fioranelli said. “We’re going to pay a lot of attention not just on the position and the age and the technical skills, but we’re going to spend a lot of time asking the questions, ‘Is this a player that is humble?’ ‘Is this a player that is hard-working?’”

The Quakes’ Homegrown pipeline produced its second player in 2017, with right back Nick Lima stepping into the starting lineup from opening day. Fioranelli and Leitch expect that route to continue to help fortify the roster.

“We’re going to keep adding to our roster with players that come from or came from our academy, definitely,” Fioranelli said. “It is a very important message that we send to our current roster but also to aspiring talents here in San Jose, many of whom really want to see the possibility to make it to the first team in MLS.”

There should also be some help from within, especially on the backline, where Panamanian center back Harold Cummings – one of the Quakes’ biggest acquisitions last winter – is expected to finally make his debut after missing all of 2017 due to a fractured fibula. Cummings’ presence could allow San Jose to free up Florian Jungwirth, who longs to play as a defensive midfielder rather than as a center back.