SAN JOSE, Calif. – With midfielder Matias Perez Garcia, the San Jose Earthquakes have delivered their biggest modern-day signing. And Quakes general manager John Doyle has equally high expectations of the 29-year-old Argentine playmaker.
“I think he’s going to be a top player in MLS,” Doyle told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday, just before the team announced Garcia’s acquisition. “I think he should be a top player in the league. He should have an immediate impact.”
That’s exactly what the Quakes need from just the third Designated Player in franchise history. San Jose (5-8-5) sit in last place in the Western Conference on 20 points from 18 matches, and will require a furious finish if they are to avoid a second straight season out of the postseason picture.
“He was, within reason, the No. 1 person on our list,” Doyle said. “You always have to go down the road with a lot of options, and we were really excited that this one came through.”
- ANALYST: Big move for little playmaker
Doyle said negotiations ran approximately six weeks before the Quakes had their target, but the signing of Perez Garcia goes beyond just a late-season push for a potential playoff berth.
With the former Tigre star coming in just as target forwards Steven Lenhart (out for up to a month due to a knee problem) and Alan Gordon (dropped from the club’s most recent game-day 18) appear to be diminishing in importance inside the club, Perez Garcia’s arrival could herald a tactical sea change for the Quakes, who won the 2012 Supporters’ Shield in part on the strength of their “Bash Brothers” style of play.
“I think the league has changed,” Doyle said. “It’s more of a free-flowing league, and we want to be one of those teams that plays – we want to defend correctly, but we also want to attack.
“I think Major League Soccer is encouraging attacking. I kind of liken it to the NFL, where you’re not hitting players any more, and all of a sudden, players are going across the middle and they’re catching balls and scoring touchdowns. In our league, nothing’s geared to defend any more. It’s geared to attack. And we have to change with those times, attack more and keep more possession of the ball.”
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Doyle said that the Perez Garcia move differs greatly from San Jose’s only other foray into the foreign DP market – the 2010 half-season rental of Brazilian midfielder Geovanni, who provided one goal and three assists in 777 minutes before returning to Brazil the following winter after the sides were unable to agree on contract terms.
The most important difference: Perez Garcia is signed for three years, Doyle said, meaning that he should be present when the Quakes open their soccer-specific stadium in San Jose next year.
From that perspective, the move represents the culmination of a lengthy process on the part of Doyle and team president David Kaval selling Quakes owner Lew Wolff on the need to keep up with the kind of changes being made by many other teams throughout the league.