Zlatan Ibrahimovic didn’t join MLS last summer, as many fans had hoped, but the arrival of the Swedish Allsvenskan’s reigning top scorer Magnus Eriksson is perhaps the next best option within the San Jose Earthquakes’ budget. Eriksson joins the Quakes from Djurgardens IF, with whom he scored fourteen goals last season, and was unveiled at Avaya Stadium on Wednesday morning.
“Magnus checked off all the boxes,” General Manager Jesse Fioranelli told Quakes Talk. The twenty-seven-year-old is comfortable playing on the right and through the middle and is the club’s fourth Designated Player alongside Chris Wondolowski, Vako, and Simon Dawkins.
Fioranelli indicated that the club will use TAM and other resources to buy down Dawkins’ contract, saying: “Simon is a player of ours and he is an important player of the club. He is a designated player as well so what we have at our disposal right now is several resources right now to structure our roster. Those decisions we will be taking in the next month or two.”
Nonetheless, Dawkins will have a face an uphill battle to regain a starting spot with Eriksson’s arrival. The Quakes have singlehandedly doubled the league’s Swedish presence in the last two months, signing left-back Joel Qwiberg from KF Brommapojkarna and coach Mikael Stahre from BK Häcken in addition to Eriksson. Stahre previously coached Eriksson in the youth ranks at Väsby United and they were competitors in last season’s Allsvenskan. “Most of the time I was winning the duel,” laughed Eriksson.
Eriksson has previously played in Denmark, Belgium, and China, and was keen on a move Stateside when he was contacted by Fioranelli. The Swede had only been to the US twice but consulted with former Seattle Sounders midfielder Erik Friberg before making the move. “One of my best friends, Freiburg, played in Seattle for a couple years,” he said. “So I’ve been in contact with him on and off the last month and he had some great things to say about the league in general. He said the stadiums are amazing here and I couldn’t agree more.”
The Earthquakes have set their preseason plans in motion after showing their cards in the buildup to last week’s expansion draft, which yielded numerous surprises. The club left Costa Rica international Marco Ureña unprotected and the forward was picked by LAFC. Although Ureña only netted five goals for the Quakes last season, his proven production for Costa Rica shows that he could become one of Major League Soccer’s top scorers in a more fitting system.
Ureña was not the only Earthquake heading South to LA as goalkeeper David Bingham was traded to the LA Galaxy for Allocation Money. The twenty-eight-year-old was called up to the US National Team as recently as last January but fell out of favor with management in San Jose over the summer. Nonetheless, Bingham clearly has the quality to make an impact for the Galaxy alongside former Quakes coach Dominic Kinnear.
The Quakes also lost to the Colorado Rapids Kip Colvey in the Waiver Draft and declined options on Victor Bernardez and Kofi Sarkodie, who announced their departures via social media.
However, General Manager Jesse Fioranelli and Stahre have moved swiftly to rebuild their roster. The club signed fifteen-year-old Jacob Akanyirige, who is among the youngest MLS players in the history of the league, as well as homegrown goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski. In addition, they signed three players from USL Affiliate Reno 1868, defender Jimmy Ockford and midfielders Luis Felipe and Chris Wehan.
Indeed, Fioranelli indicated that the club have nearly completed their transfer window activity, although he hinted at “a couple” ongoing negotiations that might bear fruit.