SAN JOSE, Calif. – Last June, Sercan Güvenisik paid his own way to spend a week on trial with the San Jose Earthquakes.
Seven months later, his investment paid off.
The Quakes announced Thursday that they have reached agreement with Güvenisik, a German-born Turkish striker with extensive experience in Germany’s second and third divisions. The 31-year-old was most recently with SC Preussen Muenster of the 3.Bundesliga, scoring 14 goals in 56 league matches since returning there in 2010.
“He’s very active and finishes his chances well, that was a big part of what we liked about him,” Quakes coach Frank Yallop told reporters on a conference call on Thursday. “He adds a quality that we just haven’t had. We have a lot of young strikers on the roster, so Sercan will add a bit more experience to our forward corps.”
San Jose had been hoping to bring in Güvenisik last summer, after his week-long stint was punctuated with a brace against LA Galaxy in a Reserve League match, but the club could not reach terms with Preussen. Güvenisik was a more attractive option at this point because his contract was up, and he came on a free transfer.
“The conditions of his contract were very reasonable, so we thought it was a pretty good deal to do and felt good about it,” Yallop said.
Yallop described Güvenisik as “sharp” and wants to utilize his skills at dipping behind the opposition’s last defender. That was a role played most recently on the Quakes by Cornell Glen, but the Trinidadian’s struggles in terms of finishing lead to his dismissal after the 2010 season.
“[Güvenisik] is not blazingly quick, but he makes good runs,” Yallop said.
Güvenisik, who holds dual German and Turkish citizenship, will be the first Turkish player in MLS history. The Quakes now have four international players on the roster – Güvenisik, Rafael Baca (Mexico), Víctor Bernárdez (Honduras) and Marvin Chávez (Honduras); foreign-born Jean Alexandre and Khari Stephenson both hold green cards – and have three slots remaining.
One or more of those slots could be used to beef up the attacking portion of San Jose’s midfield corps. The Quakes are still awaiting final word from Tottenham Hotspur regarding Simon Dawkins’ availability for this season.
If the team can’t get Dawkins back, that makes it more likely that one of three international midfielders currently in San Jose’s camp on trial – Tressor Moreno of Colombia as well as Mitsuo Ogasawara and Masashi Motoyama of Japan – might stick. Moreno, on whom the Quakes hold a discovery tag, and Motoyama are both attacking midfielders in a similar mold to Dawkins, who provided six goals and two assists last year in 26 appearances.
“It’s the time to look at players,” Yallop told reporters at training on Wednesday. “You bring in 10 to 12 players to fill two or three spots. It gives everybody a chance to do their thing.”
Among the bevy of trialists, there is also one long shot in terms of midfield additions. Brazilian vet André Luiz, whose option was declined by the team earlier this winter in the wake of multiple left knee surgeries, is back in town, hoping to catch on despite not having played in an MLS match for 18 months.
“He’s been working extremely hard, and I think we owe him the opportunity to see if he can do it,” Quakes general manager John Doyle told reporters on Wednesday. “I think it’s a long shot with his knee, but he’s been killing himself to get better. He feels a debt to us, because he’s been disappointed that he hasn’t been able to play. He was a player that we thought was going to be in the middle of our midfield when we signed him, and play all the time and be a huge piece for us, and unfortunately he’s been hurt.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org