SANTA CLARA, Calif. – San Jose Earthquakes fans hate no team with as much passion as they do the LA Galaxy. But if Simon Dawkins turns into the kind of player the Quakes think he can be, they may owe one member of the Galaxy a great big thank-you card.
Dawkins, the 23-year-old forward/attacking midfielder, arrived last Friday on a one-year loan from Tottenham Hotspur. Barely more than 24 hours after landing in the Bay Area, he was sent onto the pitch in the 65th minutes against Real Salt Lake for his MLS debut.
Coming into a situation where the Quakes required more urgency in the wake of Kyle Beckerman’s 63rd-minute goal, Dawkins immediately helped inject some vigor in San Jose’s attack. His direct slice through midfield off an RSL turnover helped set up Chris Wondolowski for a free rip at goal from 12 yards out in the 71st minute.
In short, he looked like everything the Quakes are hoping he can be after having his Spurs career derailed by injury.
[inline_node:330755]“I was very excited,” Dawkins said. “First game in MLS, and I relished it, I really did. I’m so happy.”
The Quakes were happy as well.
“He’s obviously a good player,” Quakes midfielder Sam Cronin said of Dawkins. “He’s going to help us this year. He was a little sleepy in pregame, but I think it was good for him to get his feet wet. He’s going to be a big part of what we do this year. It’s good to get him acclimated as quick as possible.”
Afterwards, Dawkins said it was advice from English legend – and current Galaxy midfielder – David Beckham that helped seal his move to MLS. When San Jose were in London, talking with Dawkins and Tottenham, Beckham happened to be at Spurs Lodge, training with the team in hopes of gaining a short-term loan.
That made it easy for Dawkins to gather information on his potential move.
“When this was going on, [Beckham] was there,” Dawkins said. “He was able to say to me, ‘This is good for you.’ And I listened to his advice.”
It’s good for the Quakes as well, especially in the short-term. With Khari Stephenson on national-team duty with Jamaica this coming weekend and Scott Sealy still dinged up, it’s very possible that Dawkins will step right into the starting lineup, playing alongside Wondolowski behind a target forward.
“Simon looked good when he surged with the ball and ran with it,” Yallop said. “He’s a clever player.”
One thing made clear by Dawkins’ brief stint against RSL is that he brings strengths different from most of his attacking teammates. Where the Quakes like to build from the wings in, Dawkins has the ability to carry the ball into the heart of the offense – which could provide new lanes of attack for San Jose to follow.
The Quakes’ best one-on-one player used to be Arturo Alvarez, but his lack of defense and crossing capability led to his being exposed and selected in January’s Expansion Draft. Dawkins may fill that hole on the roster.
“He definitely brings that to the table,” Wondolowski said. “He takes guys on and makes guys collapse to him, which opens up other holes and other runs that you can make, rather than the defense just letting you play in front of them. It makes it a lot harder on defenses, so it’s good to have him.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes
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