(Editorial)- The San Jose Earthquakes long GM search finally came to a close this week. The Earthquakes hired former AS Roma, and Lazio executive, Jesse Fioranelli, for the position. In true Quakes fashion, they hired the guy that nobody even knew was in the running. Is it a good hire? And are they headed in the right direction?
San Jose Earthquakes Hire New GM: Finally Going the Right Direction?
When the Earthquakes returned to MLS Action in 2008, many were expecting the days of old. Unfortunately, the days of old technically had just won two MLS Cups in Houston. It was a new regime, and a whole new club setup. Bought and owned by Lew Wolff, the former Oakland Athletics majority holder, the Earthquakes were essentially run and operated that way. With coaches like Frank Yallop, and John Doyle, who were successful in what many would consider MLS 1.0, the Quakes never evolved as the league evolved.
They continued to use the weakening draft pool as a prime way to bring players in, they were cheap, and loaded with veterans. In a way, they were built like a baseball team. With 2012 as an anomaly, the Earthquakes have been dismal at best. Mediocre isn’t a worthy word, because you still make the playoffs as a mediocre team in MLS (60% of the league makes postseason).
John Doyle was finally thrown out, a good year and a half after his sell-by date. Their 2014 season was evidence he wasn’t getting the job done as far as bringing in a talented, competitive roster. But much in the fashion of the 49ers, the people making decisions on roster building weren’t doing a good enough job.
The San Jose Earthquakes offseason has largely been put on hold because of the GM search, which one can only figure was put on hold thanks to the front-office shuffle, and the random hiring of a search firm, after Dave Kaval, went on an interviewing trip all across Europe. On paper, Jesse Fioranelli is a good hire. He brings every quality to the table that John Doyle lacked. The Earthquakes have shown they can rely on Chris Leitch and Dom Kinnear to handle all of their MLS scouting and player workings. Both are honestly, trustworthy figures in that area. What they all lacked, especially when John Doyle was the general manager was the network with quality european clubs, scouts, agencies, and ultimately players.
Fioranelli brings that in. He brings in the experience from being a player agent in Europe for six years, as well as working as an executive at two of the largest clubs in Europe. The hiring of Fioranelli should help the Earthquakes when it comes to getting the big DP. The player that the Earthquakes have truly lacked since they lost Landon Donovan. Gone are the days in MLS where you can win without having a high quality DP on the roster. The Earthquakes have never had that, so no wonder they have made playoffs only twice in nine seasons. And even then, the league has significantly changed and strengthened since that 2012 season.
Are they headed in the right direction? It appears so on paper. The current state of the academy is headed in the right direction, including the development of the academy facility. The long term future is in place. What remains to be seen is if the immediate future will be in place. They absolutely need to build a competitive roster for next season.
While season ticket prices didn’t increase astronomically, the principle of the increase it sends the wrong message to a fanbase that has seen a team miss the postseason seven times in the last nine years. To justify raising them for this year, they owe it to the fanbase to put together a competitive team.
So in short, it looks like the Earthquakes might be headed in the right direction. But, to convince fans of this, they’re going to need to prove it on the field rather quickly. Fans are sick of talking about the big picture of the club. They want to see results, now. So we’ll leave the talk about the short-term picture of the club as TBD.