With much optimism that was once vacant leading into the 2017 San Jose Earthquakes season, the Quakes concluded a successful preseason campaign. Eight total matches; with only one being a loss and a convincing 4-1 victory in the preseason finale against Sacramento Republic. It would be difficult to draw concerns from the record and or stats sheets. But like the saying goes, every rose has its thorn; this Bay-Area side has three that need to be picked out.
Three Questions for the 2017 San Jose Earthquakes Season
This Quakes team is a complete revamp of the year prior: new kits, new international players, and a new general manager. The supporter emotions have leapt from despair to hope in a matter of months. Nothing has been proven though; as the season’s kick-off March 4th will be the true indicator of the team’s early direction. With that approaching sooner rather than later some post-Doyle blues are still around here-and-there, but are now being largely forgotten in the commencement of Fioranellism. Here are the three questions that fuse the past with the now and which will ultimately dictate the black and blue’s success this season.
Can the Earthquakes make the playoffs?
It has been four seasons since the Quakes had a whiff of MLS playoff action, but that soon might be a drought of the past. In a conference in which 60 percent of the teams make playoffs, being left out is like missing the 6th grade camp trip due to bad grades: embarrassing. This refurbished squad offers coach Dom Kinnear well-rounded talent to finally produce a cup winning team like he did with Houston Dynamo back in 2006 and 2007.
With arguably the best goalkeeper in the league (David Bingham), one of the leagues most prolific goalscorers in Chris Wondolowski, and a competitive squad composed primarily of Target Allocated Money (TAM) based wage players; there are only a few parts that need to click in order for playoffs to become reality in San Jose. The question of the Earthquakes making playoffs prior to the season is and always will be a 50/50 shot and for now it would be jumping the gun. But what is certain is, that this squad and overall club situation is in the best shape since Kinnear’s return to the helm in 2015.
Are balls going to find the back of the net?
An appalling season-low 32 goals were scored collectively by the Bay-Area side last season; with a third of the goals deriving from forward Wondolowski. A well-expected productive season by the number eight. This season rings to be different, as three new faces will be capable of providing solid punches in the attacking front. Danny Hoesen, Marco Urena, and Jahmir Hyka (TAM wage based players) have quickly given captain Wondolowski an escape route from the stifling pressure placed on his scoring productivity.
This entire preseason, the Earthquakes, averaged a goal per game which mimicked the faultiness of last season. Fortunately, the preseason finale cleared many doubts as the very first look of a complete squad gave a thrilling four goal performance at Avaya. Newcomers Hoesen and Urena found themselves on the scoresheet while Urena generated a handful of scoring opportunities. With those four players and Simon Dawkins in the mix generating from all sectors of the attacking formation, expect to see more than 32 goals this season.
Are the new international signings worth to be excited about?
As much as general manager Fioranelli and co. wished to have the team orchestrated by the initiation of the preseason, visa related issues, contract roadblocks, and injuries countered the idea. For those reasons, not much action was seen from the new international signings as they phased in and out of the squad. Again, the devouring of Sac Republic by San Jose this past Saturday served as an indicator why this can possibly be the best offseason purchases in the past decade.
Defender Florian Jungwirth was the most consistent in the preseason of them all, as he has cemented his role as a definite starter and upgrade in the backline with his savvy tackling abilities. Hyka made his much anticipated Avaya debut a special one, as he scored in his first 45 minutes, adding credit to his “Albanian Messi” alias. Urena and Hoesen have both delivered positives; playing roles in preseason goals and true contenders to pair up with Wondolowski up top. Overall, the new signings bring aid to the struggles and voids of the past: an aging backline and goalscoring elements. Improvements that should not only bring unaccustomed play to Avaya, but as well a spark of excitement for all black and blue supporters.