International newcomers bring world-class experience

Earthquakes newcomers Andreas Gorlitz, Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi and Yannick Djalo have brought international spice and a ton of world-class experience to the squad.

All three are fluent in the language of soccer.

“Everyone speaks pretty good English,” Coach Mark Watson said. “That’s not a prerequisite by any means, but it certainly makes the transition easier. Right away, you can communicate with the coaching staff and the players.”

Gorlitz, who has experience with Bayern Munch, Djalo (Benfica) and Pierazzi (AJ Ajaccio, France Ligue 1) have expressed enthusiasm about coming to the United States and competing in a growing league. They have quickly made positive impacts in training, gaining acceptance on a veteran team.

Gorlitz seems to appreciate all aspects of his experience so far.

“It’s a good team to be with,” said Gorlitz, who has 12 years of professional experience in Germany and will provide depth to a strong back line. “Everybody was really nice to me from the beginning, and how they play, the training, and how they play soccer, I like it a lot. Hopefully, we can improve it and show it in the season that we’re a good team.” 

Djalo, 27, a versatile and mercurial player, has noticed the rise in stature of MLS abroad.

“In the beginning of my career, there wasn’t a lot of mention of MLS overseas, but now it’s a league that is taken seriously,” he said, using a translator. “There’s always headlines coming out of the league, whether it’s player movement or teams competing with European teams at a high level. So, MLS is definitely getting a lot more exposure in Portugal.”

Coming from a country where soccer is followed with a religious fervor, Gorlitz is adapting to the athletically diverse Bay Area. He enjoyed seeing a good turnout at Earthquakes’ Media Day on March 10 at Buck Shaw Stadium.

“The game is the same – it’s soccer,” Gorlitz said. “On the field you see that everybody understands soccer like the Europeans do. The level is really high. It’s really good.”

Gorlitz, 32, said it was the “perfect time” to come to the Quakes because he feels good and wants to do something new.

“I’m really happy to be in MLS, especially in California. Nice weather. Nice people, and good soccer, so everything’s fine,” he assured.

He says Europeans are realizing that MLS is getting better and better. People are even watching MLS games on TV.

“I think in a couple of years, they have a chance to be a really good league,” Gorlitz said. “You have teams that are getting 50,000, 60,000 people, like many people.”

Pierrazi, 28, has visited the United States and has long wanted to relocate here. He figures to play a vital role in the middle, along with 2013 team MVP Sam Cronin, as the Quakes try to return to the playoffs.

“We had the opportunity to watch Jean-Baptiste play in France and met him in his hometown,” Watson said after Pierazzi signed on Jan. 7. “He’s excited to come to play in the United States and knows a lot about our team already. He has a great character and has been playing in a top league in Europe for a number of years.”

Pierazzi, a native Corsican, helped L’ours earn promotion to Ligue 1 after a second-place finish in the second division in 2010-11. He has made 67 appearances over the last two-and-a-half seasons as a center midfielder for AC Ajaccio.

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