In this week’s newsletter: Salary Sheet Surprises, Minnesota match review and more insider coverage of the San Jose Earthquakes!
The MLS Players Union released its semiannual salary report at the start of the week, which revealed numerous surprises for Quakes fans and guaranteed a heated week of debate.
The report reveals fantastic deals on offseason additions Florian Jungwirth, Jahmir Hyka and Danny Hoesen, whose cap hits are $300,000 apiece (although Jungwirth and Hoesen make roughly $500,000 that in guaranteed compensation).
Chris Wondolowski – who earned a $100,000 pay raise – and Simon Dawkins are the club’s joint highest-paid players at $800,000 in guaranteed compensation each and $485,000 against the cap at a DP value. At this early juncture in the season, Dawkins’ turnout on the field has yet to justify his price tag, in our view.
Additionally, the report confirmed the Quakes struck gold in rookie Nick Lima, one of the club’s most consistent player this season, at just $86,208-per-year. The club is also betting big on draft-pick Jackson Yueill, who is making $175,992 in guaranteed compensation. By contrast, Fatai Alashe might want to consider hiring a new agent with a deal worth only $114,425 in guaranteed comp despite being a third-year starter and key contributor.
More problematic for the Quakes is the $900,000 spent on players suffering from long-term injuries including Harold Cummings, Quincy Amairkwa, Marc Pelosi and Marvell Wynne, although the team could soften the blow by placing Wynne on the Season-Ending Injury List, freeing up $100,000-$250,000 in cap space to sign a replacement.
Most intriguingly, midfielder Leandro Barrera is still on the club payroll, owed $100,000 in guaranteed comp this year despite having last appeared for the club in 2015. The Argentine footballer was sent on loan to Argentine first-division side Club Atlético San Martín last season and, without a club, is still on the Quakes payroll, though it’s likely the Quakes will seek to secure another loan move this year.
MINNESOTA MATCH REVIEW
Go with the Flo: Quakes halt winless streak with 1-0 victory at Minnesota
The Quakes began the season with two consecutive victories with the same starting eleven, but through a combination of suspensions, injuries, international absences, and, perhaps, questionable judgment, the same XI hasn’t been fielded since. Coach Dominic Kinnear has instead been forced to tinker with the starting lineup, to varied results.
There have been pleasant surprises, most notably the emergence of creative midfielder Jahmir Hyka and striker Danny Hoesen, but also numerous hitches along the way.
Kinnear’s biggest change against Minnesota was the conversion of Hoesen to a wide-midfield role, which in turn dropped Cordell Cato into the back-line in place of rookie Nick Lima, who had started every other game this season. Both players thrived in their new roles, offering additional attacking bite as opposed to the club’s previously blunt road offense.
We’ve charted the battle between Victor Bernardez and Fatai Alashe for a starting center-back spot alongside Florian Jungwirth over the last few weeks and Bernardez might well have landed a knockout blow with a solid clean sheet performance. Kinnear has rotated between the pair their last four matches, but costly defensive mishaps from Alashe have paved the way for Bernardez to reclaim his starting spot despite the gaps thus far between him and Jungwirth.
Set Piece Specialty
Three of the club’s nine goals this season have come from set pieces, in no small part due to their increased focus on free-kicks and corners in training. “We work a lot on set pieces,” said goalscorer Jungwirth. “Assistant coach Steve [Ralston] gives us a lot of good tips and shows us film.”
Having previously netted from a crossed free-kick against Sporting Kansas City, Jungwirth is now, in fact, the club’s joint-leading goalscorer this season alongside Chris Wondolowski and Anibal Godoy. If only Kinnear’s men could be so proficient from open play.
What They Said
Captain Chris Wondolowski: “I think Minnesota is a very good team. I think they have kind of righted their ship and are very solid in their two banks of four and very talented when they are going forward. Very dynamic especially in [Kevin] Molino and [Christian] Ramirez and [Johan] Venegas. Guys like that, very dynamic players, makes it difficult.”
Goalscorer Florian Jungwirth: Yeah, we work a lot on set pieces, especially with assistant coach Steve [Ralston] who gives us a lot of good tips and shows us film. I watch that film and see spots I should be running through. You just have to run in the spot. It doesn’t mean that the ball comes there, but if it does you have to be ready. Today was nice in that regard and we had about three chances and put one in.
Coach Dominic Kinnear: “We’re playing well, we just haven’t been scoring goals. Playing from behind always is tough, three games on the road is tough for any team in this league. I thought we played well. I thought we deserved to win. I thought even in the second half, we were controlling the tempo of the game and creating some good chances. A bit of a scrappy goal, sometimes that’s what you need. Really happy for the guys.”
Fans began to sharpen their knives as the pressure intensified on coach Dominic Kinnear after a 2-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo last weekend extended the club’s winless streak to six games. However, a solid victory over Minnesota ended the Quakes tough three-game road trip on a positive note and appears to have appeased the masses for now, buying Kinnear, in our books, at least another few games to try to build on the Minnesota win and keep the Quakes in the upper half of the table.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Quakes return home to face the Portland Timbers on Saturday after an exhausting three-game road trip in the space of ten days. Kinnear’s men have only defeated the Timbers once in their last nine attempts in all competitions, although that win was in the two sides’ previous encounter at Avaya, 2-1 courtesy of Quincy Amarikwa’s wonder-goal.
The Timbers are currently leading MLS with a 5-2-2 record, scoring a league-leading twenty goals to the Quakes’ nine. Fanendo Adi currently leads their scoring charts with six so far this season, while midfield danger-man Diego Valeri has five goals and four assists.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
— San Jose Earthquakes (@SJEarthquakes) April 29, 2017
AFTERSHOCKS: FROM THE WEEK’S NEWS
Quakes Epicenter: Analyzing the San Jose Earthquakes 2017 Salary Sheet
Quakes Fan: 2017 Early Season Fan Poll
San Jose Earthquakes: 5 Things to Know About Director of Methodology Alex Covelo
San Jose Earthquakes: Quakes hire Andres Deza as Girls Academy director
San Jose Earthquakes: Quakes to host Special Olympics Cali Clasico May 27
Quakes After 90: The Internet Sharpens its #KinnearOut Knives
Quakes Fan: 2017 Early Season Fan Poll
TRUCKEE TALK: RENO 1868 UPDATE
After being denied their first ever USL win in a 2-2 draw last weekend, Reno regrouped over a bye-week. They defeated Lake Tahoe Community College 7-0 in a mid-week scrimmage, with Quakes loanee Linda Mfeka scoring a brace. Ian Russell’s men will return to action against Didier Drogba’s Phoenix Rising next week.
The Quakes academy program enjoyed a very successful weekend, asserting their superiority over cross-town rivals De Anza Force across almost every age group. The U-12 academy beat the Force 2-0 courtesy of two goals in quick succession, although the U-13s were defeated 3-0 after going behind in the first minute. The U-14s won 7-4 in an exhilarating matchup, the U-16s won 3-0, and the U-18s won 5-0. On Sunday, the U-12s, U-13s, and U-14s also triumphed in their respective matchups.
Additionally, the Quakes introduced multiple promising initiatives behind-the-scenes, most notably hiring Andres Deza to kickstart their Girls’ Development Academy Program ahead of its inaugural season in the fall. They also announced the club’s participation in the third iteration of Major League Soccer’s partnership with the French Football Federation, which will see academy coach Eder Quintanilla and technical director Chris Leitch earn their Elite Formation Coaching License after a fourteen-month youth development course.
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