2020 Season Preview: San Jose Earthquakes

Year One of the Matias Almeyda era in San Jose was undoubtedly exhilarating … but it ultimately ended in disappointment amid a six-game losing streak. Now, the Argentine coach will look to take the next step and make the playoffs with a squad little-changed from the one that finished eighth in the West in 2019.

Despite the relative lack of turnover compared to many of their Western Conference rivals, Almeyda has reiterated his belief in the squad he has. They turned heads last year with their fast-paced style and aggressive man-marking, and if they can execute that strategy with a little more consistency, the Quakes could make noise in the West.

2019 Finish

  • MLS Reg. Season: 44 points (13W-16L-5D), 8th in West / 15th overall
  • MLS Cup Playoffs: Did not qualify
  • U.S. Open Cup: Eliminated in Round of 16 (vs. LAFC)

Star players

  • Chris Wondolowski — He's back for one last ride. MLS's all-time leading scorer has indicated that 2020 is very likely his last season, and he would love nothing more than a winning final year with his hometown team. After a 15-goal tally in 2019, Wondo will also be looking to make it 11 straight seasons with 10 or more goals.
  • Cristian Espinoza — The Quakes’ record signing after they made his 2019 loan move permanent, Espinoza was one of the best wingers in MLS last year. He was a prodigious chance creator and a delight to watch every game, but he and the Quakes will surely be hoping for a little more end product than the two goals he scored in his first season in the Bay.
  • Jackson Yueill — After a breakout season when he established himself with the US national team, another strong campaign from the smooth-passing Yueill in center of the park will be key for the Quakes’ chances in 2020.

Extratime Analysis: San Jose Earthquakes

Key acquisitions and departures

  • IN: Oswaldo Alanis — After losing two center backs from the 2019 roster, San Jose had an acute need at the position and addressed it as well as could be expected, bringing in an experienced defender who knows Almeyda well and has 21 caps for the Mexican national team.
  • IN: Tanner Beason — San Jose's only other acquisition so far outside of a pair of Homegrowns in their mid-teens, Beason was the Quakes’ first-round (No. 12 overall) SuperDraft pick. The Stanford product should provide a more defense-minded alternative to Nick Lima and Marcos Lopez at left back and can also slot in at center back if needed.
  • OUT: Anibal Godoy — The relentless Panamanian midfielder was well-liked in San Jose, but the ascendence of Judson and Yueill as starters in central midfield contributed to his trade to Nashville for a bundle of Allocation Money.
  • OUT: Harold Cummings — Another Panamanian international, Cummings lost his starting spot in the center of defense midway through 2019 and signed in Chile after his contract expired.

Projected Starting XI

2020 Roster

  • Goalkeepers (4): Matt Bersano, JT Marcinkowski, Emmanuel Ochoa, Daniel Vega
  • Defenders (10): Jacob Akanyirige, Osvaldo Alanis, Tanner Beason, Florian Jungwirth, Guram Kashia, Nick Lima, Marcos Lopez, Paul Marie, Tommy Thompson, Casey Walls
  • Midfielders (12): Eric Calvillo, Magnus Eriksson, Cristian Espinoza, Luis Felipe, Carlos Fierro, Gilbert Fuentes, Siad Haji, Judson, Shea Salinas, Jack Skahan, Vako, Jackson Yueill
  • Forwards (4): Cade Cowell, Danny Hoesen, Andy Rios, Chris Wondolowski

Armchair Analyst: Strengths and weaknesses

  • Strength: They returned almost their entire roster, which should in theory mean better chemistry amongst the group and a clearer understanding of Matias Almeyda’s system on both sides of the ball. And in Almeyda they have a proven winner — a coach who can take a less-talented team and make it greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Weakness: The Quakes are a less-talented team. They played great for a long stretch of last year but simply didn’t have the final-third difference-makers necessary to get into the playoffs, and when the margins are that thin then mistakes become that significant.

Predictions

  • Ben Baer: 10th in West
  • Marcelo Balboa (Univision): 11th in West
  • Calen Carr: 8th in West
  • Charlie Davies: 9th in West
  • Matt Doyle: 9th in West
  • Kristian Jack (TSN): 5th in West
  • Frederic Lord (TVA Sports): 8th in West
Series: