The San Jose Earthquakes have ramped up their offseason spending in the final weeks before the beginning of the 2017 MLS season, announcing the signings of Danny Hoesen, Florian Jungwirth and Jahmir Hyka all within the space of twenty-four hours.
Although none of the signings are as “surprising” in themselves as General Manager Jesse Fioranelli promised at the club’s first day of preseason training a week-and-a-half ago, each player having been linked with the club for weeks, the collective capture of four DP-threshold players within a week (including Marcos Ureña) does represent a shift in the club’s traditionally conservative mindset and serves as a clear statement of intent.
The club utilized Targeted Allocation Money to complete the signings, specifically seeking mid-level players that add depth and, as Fioranelli pointed out multiple times in his introductory press conference, “versatility” to the squad.
Hoesen, twenty-six, joins on a year-long loan from Dutch Eredivisie side FC Gronigen, for whom he scored fifteen goals in seventy-two appearances since 2014, including four in twelve so far this season. He also has previous playing experience for Ajax, Fulham, and the Dutch youth national teams.
“Danny Hoesen gives us a player with a strong frame that is tall, but also has a fast pace,” said Fioranelli. “He can attack the space in counter-attack situations. He can also work in tandem with whichever striker will be supporting him. He’s a player that comes from very attack-minded football in Holland and will be the perfect striker to give us an additional element in the box that we may have been missing.”
Jungwirth, a twenty-eight-year-old defensive midfielder, joins from Bundesliga side Darmstadt 98. The stocky ball-winner previously played in Germany’s lower divisions for VFL Bochum and 1860 Munich and also played for the German youth national teams.
“Florian is a player that can play in several positions,” said Fioranelli. “He’s a defensive all-arounder, starting his career as a central defender with the German (youth) national team, and he was captain as well. He then moved slightly up ahead of the defense, and in the last several years, he has played at right back and on the left as well. He has that versatility that we are looking for.”
The pair will officially join the Quakes roster when the MLS transfer window opens on February 14th and will partake in preseason training in the meantime.
Hyka is another important addition for the Quakes, having spent the last six years at FC Luzern of the Swiss Super League. He made over one-hundred-and-sixty appearances for the club in that time frame, including scoring six goals in fifteen appearances from the midfield so far this season. The creative attacking midfielder has also appeared for Mainz 05 in the Bundesliga and won forty-two caps for the Albanian national team.
While each individual capture represents an unknown quantity to the Quakes fan base, there is some security in the bulk of signings. Where any one deal has the potential to awry, the Quakes now have an abundance of offensive options as they seek to end the year above the red line for the first time since 2012.
Dominic Kinnear has had two-and-a-half years to model the Quakes into his team— of twenty-eight squad members from the team he inherited in 2014, only seven remain) —and 2017 may well be his final opportunity to bring all of the changes to fruition. These signings suggest he will not go out passively.
Photo credit: Anne Wild [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons