San Jose didn’t send a player back to Toronto FC last week in exchange for the services of midfielder Sam Cronin, surrendering only allocation money.
But the Earthquakes made a sacrifice all the same as part of the deal, cutting loose midfielder Ramon Sanchez and third-string goalkeeper Andrew Weber on Tuesday in order to make sure they had enough space to fit Cronin’s deal under their salary cap.
The moves had to be made before Thursday so that the remainder of the two contracts for Sanchez and Weber would not be guaranteed. Since the Quakes made room for Cronin by placing Andre Luiz on the disabled list instead of giving up a player, there was no salary-cap offset.
“Adding Sam Cronin, we needed to recoup some of the cost,” Quakes general manager John Doyle told MLSsoccer.com. With the moves, “we’ll be under the cap, with a little bit of cap space, and still have all of our allocation money.”
Of the two decisions, Sanchez was more difficult for Doyle. The 28-year-old captain of El Salvador’s national team was brought in midway through last season and started 10 of 11 matches for which he was available, helping stabilize the shaky Quakes.
This year, however, Sanchez has played only 83 minutes, logging less time in the midfield than MLS newcomer Joey Gjertsen and first-year pros Brad Ring and Steven Beitashour. Third-year player Brandon McDonald has been coach Frank Yallop’s first choice in a holding role because McDonald has greater athleticism than Sanchez.
“Ramon’s situation was tough,” Doyle said. “It was tough to let him go. I think a lot of Ramon as a professional and as a person. I was pulling a lot for him to get back in the first team. He just wasn’t able to do that.”
The choice of Weber was not a huge surprise. The team had strongly considered going with just two goalkeepers this season, even before they scooped up veteran Jon Busch, who was released by Chicago Fire just before the Fire’s season opener. Busch, who moved into the starting lineup last Friday, will remain with former No. 1 Joe Cannon.
“We’re pretty happy with our two goalkeepers, and we think they can handle it,” said Doyle, who also will probably target a young keeper in next year’s SuperDraft.
With two roster spots open and allocation funds on hand, San Jose are now in a position to add talent during the mid-season transfer window that opens on July 15. The Quakes had former MLS midfielders Leslie “Tiger” Fitzpatrick and Pablo Richetti in for training during the World Cup break, and while neither player is still in the team’s plans, Doyle said, they’re still searching for a veteran presence.
“I want to make sure we’re fully loaded for the rest of the season,” Yallop said. “We’re going to make sure that we make the right moves.”
One possible target is forward Kenny Cooper, who scored 18 goals for FC Dallas in 2008 but had a mostly fruitless 2009-10 season with 1860 Munich of Germany’s second division and third-division English side Plymouth Argyle. San Jose is first on the allocation list should Cooper return Stateside.
Doyle said he also has his eyes on two other players who could help the Quakes, although their availability remains a question. Unlike the previous two seasons, however, San Jose is in no rush to add players as soon as the transfer window opens.
“In years past, the first day, we had guys ready to go because we needed the help,” Doyle said. “This year, we’re in a pretty good position (in the standings) and have a deep team, so we’re trying to be selective and get the right fit.”
There also remains the possibility that the Quakes will hold onto their cash. Doyle is not expecting to collect much if any allocation money after this season, and knows he has “three or four” players already on the roster who are in line for a raise next year.
“If we didn’t change anything, I still think we’re good enough to make the playoffs,” Doyle said. “I’m happy with what we have.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes