The San Jose Earthquakes may have waited until after MLS’ midseason transfer window had closed before filling their final roster spot, but the addition of Brazilian midfielder Geovanni as the franchise’s first Designated Player might be just the thing to push the Quakes’ postseason plans wide open.
Since being re-established in 2008, the Quakes have signed plenty of players they hoped would provide a DP-level of performance without actually invoking the Designated Player clause. Yet they always came with one caveat or another – usually related to their age or injury problems.
In Geovanni, the Quakes bring in a player with an impressive résumé. His services were bought in his 20s for millions of euros by Barcelona and then Benfica, most recently a bright spot on an otherwise desultory (and, as of last spring, relegated) Hull City side. At 30 years old, the Brazilian – who was available even after the transfer window because the relegated Tigers terminated his deal early – should still have plenty of soccer left in him.
In summary, if Quakes fans are dissatisfied with this move, maybe nothing short of kidnapping Lionel Messi will make them happy.
Four other snap judgments on Geovanni coming to Buck Shaw Stadium:
1) Geovanni is the right man at the right time for San Jose. The Quakes have hovered around the .500 mark for much of the season, hoping that their grit would overcome a paucity of class up front. General manager John Doyle knew his team badly needed someone to stir the drink offensively, and after compatriot Andre Luiz started to sell Geovanni on San Jose, the choice became clear.
2) Chris Wondolowski should be the happiest man in MLS today. Wondolowski, the Quakes’ leading scorer this season with seven goals, is a natural finisher, but admits freely that he needs service to thrive.
The passing of central midfielder Khari Stephenson during his debut Saturday was already a revelation, as it opened up avenues that the Quakes previously had bypassed completely. In Geovanni, San Jose add a playmaker armed not only with similar vision and touch, but also with the quickness and savvy to get himself open and pull defenses out of shape.
“All you can do is just make the runs that you can, try and make the most runs, the best runs that you can and hopefully the ball finds you there,” Wondolowski said Saturday.
With Geonvanni on board, delivery of the ball that puts players into scoring opportunities should be an expectation, not a hope.
3) Coach Frank Yallop has plenty of toys to play with. Geovanni has played on either wing and up front, but mostly has been used as an attacking midfielder. In the short-term, he might play on the left wing while Bobby Convey, who was sensational at that spot for much of the season, subs for injured left back Ramiro Corrales.
Beyond that, it will be interesting to see if Yallop switches from his preferred 4-4-2 into a 4-5-1 or even 4-4-1-1, with Geovanni as a withdrawn forward in order to maximize his offensive impact. If the Quakes could ever get Brazilian striker Eduardo healthy enough to serve as a target up front, San Jose could become a very dangerous foe in October and beyond.
4) The front office is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to making the playoffs. Owner Lew Wolff easily could have told Doyle to get by with what he had, hoping to sneak into this year’s playoffs and putting a DP signing on the back burner until the team’s new stadium project is completed – or at least back on track economically.
Instead, Wolff ponied up the cash and Doyle closed the deal for a player who should make a big, big difference. Game on, Quakes.
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes