The San Jose Earthquakes got a taste of the samba on Sept. 5 when Brazilian playmaker Geovanni delivered his first MLS assist and goal against the Houston Dynamo.
Now the Quakes hope that countryman Eduardo can become their Designated Player’s new dance partner.
After moldering on the bench with a variety of injuries for the first two-thirds of the season, San Jose’s biggest winter acquisition is finally starting to get his legs under him. Eduardo has made second-half appearances in back-to-back matches, and his 45 minutes against the Philadelphia Union last week was his longest stint of the year.
Despite a solid defense that has propelled them into playoff contention, the team would love to see their Brazilians spark an offense that has often relied on Chris Wondolowski and little else. The pair almost struck for a winning goal in a 0-0 tie against FC Dallas on Sept. 11, but Eduardo’s toe-poke volley of Geovanni’s lead pass slid wide of the net in the 86th minute.
“He’s done that in training,” Quakes right back Chris Leitch said of Eduardo’s attempt against Dallas. “He always gets on the end of things.”
With both Geovanni and Eduardo having reached the heights – albeit briefly – of playing for the Brazilian National Team, the natural assumption is that their games will be in tune, a kind of Mutt-and-Jeff pairing of a low-to-the-ground playmaker (Geovanni) and a big, strong target forward (Eduardo).
“They seemed to be maybe on the same page more than the other guys,” coach Frank Yallop said of the pair. “Geo may be more used to that type of striker. They’re both Brazilian, both from the same upbringing, if you like, at the club level and both having gone to Europe. Maybe that was the chemistry thing that worked.
After missing 20 of the Quakes’ first 21 matches, Eduardo said after facing that Union that he was at 80 percent, aiming for 100 percent before San Jose plays in Toronto on Saturday.
“All I do is try to work hard every day and show the coaches that I should be picked first, but there are other players working hard in practice, too,” Eduardo said through a translator. “Every day I just try to improve my game and demonstrate I should be playing.”
When he does play, Eduardo brings a different look than Cornell Glen, whose danger is predicated on using speed, or Wondolowski, who has been able time and again to cannily sneak away from markers and plant himself in open spaces.
“Eddie’s got a different look to him, where he likes to back into players and really manipulate the ball from a backing-in position, like a hold-up player, and I think that he does that well,” Yallop said.
The big Brazilian’s ability’s have not been overlooked by his teammates, either.
“He’s a big guy, a really big guy, and sometimes you almost think that he’s going to lose the ball, but he holds onto it,” Leitch said. “He’s a little bit deceptive. He’s a big dude, but he’s pretty quick. He’s agile. He’s got really nice feet.
“In [American] football, they talk about receivers has nice hands. He’s got great feet. He’s very shifty. He can add something, for sure. We picked him up for a reason.”
To Yallop, that reason isn’t simply to score goals for the Quakes.
“He’s not a sort of out-and-out scorer, if you look at his record, but he gets a lot of assists," said San Jose's coach. "And I think that he can have both to his game.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes