Trade with TFC gives San Jose depth

Attakora, Gordon, Peterson fill needs for Quakes for second half of MLS slate

John Doyle Academy Update

Photo Credit: 
John Todd

San Jose Earthquakes general manager John Doyle will be the first to
admit that he has high expectations for the 2011 edition of his team.

So when the Quakes limped into this week with a record below .500 and
no wins in more than a month, Doyle didn’t hesitate to embark on some
July renovations, pulling the trigger Thursday morning on a deal that
brought a three-fold infusion of new blood from Toronto FC.

San Jose received forward Alan Gordon, midfielder Jacob Peterson and
defender Nana Attakora in exchange for forward Ryan Johnson, allocation
money and an international player slot.

It’s a deal that brings three potential starters to the Quakes and,
Doyle hopes, will breed greater competition in practice — something that
carries over into matches after San Jose have been shut out in four of
their last five MLS games.

“We haven’t been happy with the performances, the three ties at home,
the game at Chivas [a 2-0 defeat on July 6],” Doyle told MLSsoccer.com
by phone on Thursday evening. “We got a forward, a midfielder and a
defender. It puts pressure on everybody.”

All three players were guys that the Quakes had been asking about for
months, if not years, but the deal came together in its finalized format
over the last two weeks.

“It’s the midpoint of the season and other teams are making decisions
on players, based on their performances and results, so players who were
never available before are coming available,” Doyle said. “When we saw
they were willing to do something with Ryan, then we went forward from
there.”

In addition to depth throughout the roster, the trade addresses what
has been San Jose’s most pressing problem this season: right midfield.
Peterson is expected to get first crack at providing some stability in a
position that has been a merry-go-round all year, with a half-dozen
different players earning starts at one time or another.

Doyle is hoping that Peterson — a player he coveted back to the
25-year-old’s days with the Colorado Rapids — will solve all the
swirling doubts after recovering from a torn ACL suffered, ironically,
against San Jose in September 2009.

“We’ve been looking for a right midfielder, been playing a lot of
players there and no one has stood out for us,”  Doyle said. “He had an
ACL almost two years ago, and we wanted to see how he did. He’s been
great this season. ... We know he’s a quality player, has good service
and can get behind people. He can deliver a good ball, is good on the
ball and has a high work rate.”

The deal reunites Gordon with the Quakes’ Frank Yallop, who coached
Gordon on the LA Galaxy in 2006 and ’07. It gives San Jose, who acquired
Steven Lenhart this winter, a second legitimate target forward,
although it remains to be seen if Yallop would pair the two bruisers,
given his affinity for playing either Simon Dawkins or Chris Wondolowski
as a withdrawn forward that roams underneath their strike partners.

“Frank thinks a ton of Alan Gordon, and we thought if we ever had a
chance to acquire him, we would,” Doyle said. “He’s similar to Lenhart: a
handful up front, a big strong guy who can score goals.”

Attakora, who has to receive a P-1 visa before he can be cleared to
play for San Jose, will provide another young center back, replacing the
recently dealt Brandon McDonald.

Doyle said he had no qualms about Attakora’s up-and-down season, which
included being dropped from TFC’s starting lineup for nearly two months
for what the player said was a reaction to his unwillingness to sign a
contract extension with the team.

Quakes assistant Mark Watson, who served with the Canandian national
team system through 2009, has a solid relationship with Attakora and
vouched for him.

While Doyle said that San Jose are “not finished” and pointed out that
the club “has room to make moves” under the salary cap, the Quakes will
wait at least a week to see how the new additions will mesh with the
existing roster before deciding what other actions to take during the
summer transfer window.

“You expect that they’re going to have an impact on the team, give the
team a boost,” Doyle said. “For sure, that’s something that we’re
counting on.”

Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at sanjosequakes@gmail.com. On Twitter: @sjquakes