For the first time since their re-establishment, the San Jose Earthquakes were looking forward to taking careful, measured steps at the midseason transfer window this time around.
In 2008 and ’09, the Quakes had been looking primarily for quantity, seeking to fill a myriad of holes. This year, they were searching out quality, willing to bring in only one player – or maybe none at all – if they didn’t represent a reasonable upgrade from a roster which opened the season 6-4-4.
Then prized winter acquisition Eduardo, who has played only 31 minutes all season, reinjured his hip flexor, and the Quakes’ plan for the window went right out the window.
Coach Frank Yallop and general manager John Doyle agreed Wednesday that Eduardo’s latest setback, which is expected to shelve him for a minimum of four to six weeks, have increased the urgency for the Quakes to find additional help before the Aug. 15 cutoff to sign free agents.
Eduardo has suffered from a litany of injuries since joining San Jose in the wake of his release from Swiss side FC Basel last summer, including his strains of his hamstring and oblique muscles, in addition to two bouts with his hip.
But Wednesday marked the first time Yallop talked about the 30-year-old Brazilian as if the team might not get anything out him this year.
“I think we’re looking at hopefully signing a player or two, we’ll see,” Yallop said. “With Eduardo maybe out for the season, whether it’s a forward or a midfielder, I think we’ve got to make sure that we’re covered, because we’re two injuries away from being a bit light in certain departments. So we’ll make sure that we’re trying to do the right thing, trying to add good players.”
Doyle defended the decision to sign Eduardo, who, if healthy, could provide the kind of power and strength up front that San Jose haven’t had in three years back in MLS. Ryan Johnson comes the closest to approximating that skill set, but has struggled to find the net this season, notching only one goal to this point and getting benched after the World Cup break.
“We brought him in early because he’s a big, strong guy and you want to make sure he’s fit and his weight is good,” Doyle said of Eduardo. “He came in a month early, we got him moved in, got everything set so that he could get prepared for the season. He’s had no history of injuries, and it’s all been [little] muscle injuries here. It’s pretty frustrating, but it’s not his fault. You can tell genuinely that he’s crushed right now, so I feel bad for him.”
With the Quakes carrying only 22 active players, they have plenty of roster room for a signing. San Jose do not have much space under the salary cap, however, as evidenced by the fact they had to release Ramon Sanchez in order to clear dollars to acquire midfielder Sam Cronin from Toronto last month.
That said, Doyle remains willing to engage in another trade or a free agent signing, if it nets him the player he wants.
“I think we’re pretty open to either,” Doyle said. “We’ll see what the best possible situation is. [Losing Andre Luiz to season-ending knee surgery] and with Eduardo being hurt, yeah, I think we have looked a little harder. You always think, ‘We’ve kind of got [the roster set],’ but always something happens. Someone gets injured, and every team deals with it.”
Eduardo was never expected to play Thursday against the Galaxy, but he had been viewed as recently as last week as the Quakes’ potential answer to the raft of DP signings around the league. San Jose defender Jason Hernandez said the team will continue to carry on without his contributions.
“Whichever guys are available, we’ll do our best to put together the right team,” Hernandez told MLSsoccer.com. “Unfortunately, he hasn’t been available, but we haven’t suffered too much when it comes to our results and scoring goals and winning games, so we’re just going to continue to do what we do.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. On Twitter: @sjquakes