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2017 Western Conference Preview: San Jose Earthquakes

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It’s not looking good for the Quakes in 2017.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at San Jose Earthquakes John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

So far, we’ve previewed the Vancouver Whitecaps, Sporting Kansas City, and the Seattle Sounders, which means the San Jose Earthquakes are up. In short, the Quakes didn’t do well last year, and haven’t done anything to fix it this year.

San Jose Earthquakes Preview for 2017

2016 Record: 8-12-14 (WLT), 38 points, 9th in the Western Conference

2016 Goals For: 32 (12th in MLS)

2016 Goals Against: 40 (9th in MLS)

Key Stat for 2016: Their goals against and number of ties indicate a strong (ish) defense/keeper.

Key Additions:

Jahmir Hyka, Danny Hoesen

Key Subtractions:

Jordan Stewart, Alberto Quintero

What San Jose has going for them:

Ninth in the MLS for goals against is not bad, which means that their defense and keeper are doing a pretty good job. It also explains their somewhat absurd number of draws (T-2nd in MLS in 2016). Marvell Wynne and Victor Bernardez are returning this year to anchor the defense.

Chris Wondolowski, who had 12 goals last season, is returning as well. The next highest goal scorer was Simon Dawkins with five, so clearly the Quakes need some more support up top. In the offseason, they signed Jahmir Hyka (from FC Luzern), who apparently has been called the “Albanian Messi” by fans, and Danny Hoesen (from FC Gronigen), who has the pace and technique to potentially partner work well with Wondo.

What’s troubling:

They finished 9th in the Western Conference last year, and so far they’ve really only lost key players. Sure the Hyka signing is exciting, but it’s not likely that he’s going to come out of the gate super strong - there’s pretty much always an adjustment period.

In addition, Center Line Soccer reported that the GM said “the winter transfer period produces a limited amount of good opportunities and the club in the position it is right now believes that in the summer there will be more options where we can strike a deal that gives us not only more support on the field but also, from a long term perspective, will want to commit to the San Jose Earthquakes.” This is somewhat puzzling to me because it doesn’t seem like they are in any position to wait, and instead of grabbing someone who can make an impact, they’re waiting until the season is halfway over? I don’t really get it. If they do wait until the summer, the Quakes will go into the season without any new DPs.

2017 Forecast:

San Jose hasn’t made many moves that would improve the team, so I don’t expect to see much improvement. I mean, they could always sign a Nicolás Lodeiro mid-season and turn it all around, but it’s unlikely. We’ll probably see them fighting to stay out of the bottom of the table again this year.

That being said, I hate predicting that teams finish at the bottom, because that was the Colorado Rapids this time last year, and look what happened with them. San Jose has the potential, if they can put their new players to good use, but I’m skeptical.

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Next up, Rapids Rabbi will cover the our Rocky Mountain rivals, Real Salt Lake.

UPDATE: Some people have been wondering why I didn’t include Marcos Ureña, Nick Lima, or Florian Jungwirth. Here’s why: While yes, Ureña has Costa Rican National Team experience, he hasn’t been terribly impressive on his Scandinavian squad, therefore his value is MLS is somewhat up in the air. Lima seems to be a signing to build on the team in the future, not someone who will make an immediate impact. From what I’ve read, Jungwirth’s potential impact is up in the air as well. While anyone can come in and make an impact, there’s no guarantee.