It’s almost impossible to predict the transfer business of the San Jose Earthquakes due to the incredibly wide scope of the club’s scouting range. The club’s front office circumnavigates the globe (at least via online scouting platforms) in an attempt to discover undervalued talents that can yield returns on a limited transfer budget. In recent years, these efforts have brought in players from Costa Rica, Mexico, Hungary, England, Argentina and even Azerbaijan.
It’s fully in character for the Quakes, then, to be linked to a move for thirty-one-year-old striker Henok Goitom out of Sweden. Although nothing official is yet to come out of the Quakes organization regarding the potential deal – and the club did not return a request for comment – everything points towards it being an impending move.
Goitom is currently a free agent, having last played for Spanish side Getafe in the spring, and could offer the Quakes a much-needed reinforcement up front. Head coach Dominic Kinnear has hinted at a potential signing for weeks, and the trade of Matias Perez-Garcia for Orlando City’s Darwin Ceren paved the way for such a deal. Although the MLS Transfer Window window closed on Friday night, it’s still possible to sign free agents from outside the league, such as Goitom.
It makes too much sense, then, for the reports not to contain elements of the truth. If anything, the obscurity of the link lends to its legitimacy, with the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet quoting Goitom as saying:
“I got a contract proposal from AIK and the proposal was very far from the proposals that were on the table last fall. I understand of course that the conditions have changed and I do not get a similar proposal last, but the difference was very large.”
“The adventure in San Jose is a different adventure with a different type of football … I will get to pick up experience to add to my toolbox for a future as a coach.”
He has had a nomadic career, playing for seven different clubs in the last nine years. On the international level, he played for Sweden’s youth national team but switched allegiances to Eritrea in 2015. Born to Eritrean parents, Goitom grew up in Stockholm and currently manages a youth soccer team that cultivates the children of local immigrants. He moved to Italian side Udinese as a teenager in 2003, dubbed as “Udinese’s New Pearl” by La Gazzetta dello Sport, but a serious knee injury derailed his career at the club before it could really get started.
Goitom then bounced between moves in Spain at Ciudad de Murcia, Real Murcia, Valladolid, and Almeria, but has been able to produce strong goalscoring returns in the right situations and a return to Sweden heralded the most successful period of his career. Having previously been pegged into more traditional center-forward roles, Goitom was given more freedom to drop into the middle and assist in the build-up play for top division side AIK, a role that suits his technical skill set. The results? Thirty-nine-goals in ninety-three games and an MVP award in the Allsvenskan last season.
Nevertheless, AIK couldn’t meet his contract demands at the end of the 2015 season and he departed with regret. Although he claims to have had offers from the Middle East, China and the US at the time, Goitom elected to return to Spain and join Getafe.
This move didn’t pan out, however, and the player left at the end of the season in June as Getafe suffered relegation. There is, then, an element of risk involved in the deal for the Quakes, especially given Goitom’s age, but rumors suggest that he will sign a only six-month deal through the end of the season, which would fit the club’s salary cap requirements.
The Quakes would also have the option extend the contract through next season and presumably Goitom would be competing for a position with Alberto Quintero, whose year-long loan deal also ends at the end of the year. (That is assuming the club can’t get Innocent Emeghara off their hands.)
There are, of course, many other complexities involved in MLS signing machinations, but a potential deal for Goitom looks to check several boxes for the Quakes.
UPDATE: It appears that Goitom is at Avaya Stadium and has signed for the club, although the Quakes are yet to officially confirm the transfer
— Jairo Pachon (@pachonj) August 10, 2016
UPDATE 2: It’s official! Here’s a little of what to expect from the latest Quakes signing: