San Jose Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli participated in a Facebook Live question and answer session with color commentator and NASL Earthquakes alumni Chris Dangerfield on Wednesday. Here is a look at five of the biggest takeaways from the conversation as Jesse reflected on his first 100 days with the team and shared his future plans.
1. Jesse Has Been Busy
Jesse came into the club not wanting to restructure, but rather learn about the organization during his first 100 days in order to be effective in the future. He has participated in more than 160 meetings with the key stakeholders, or “captains” as he likes to call them, in various areas. Ranging from youth development to the First Team, Jesse sat down with these captains to learn about the stomachaches and the opportunities in the club.
Given Jesse’s strong background in performance data and analysis, he has also worked to bolster that area of the technical staff and build on the foundation that was already in place. The recent hiring of Bruno Costa as the head of scouting is a move in the direction that Jesse wants to go. Costa joins the Quakes having served as the head scout at the Brazilian Football Confederation and with Fluminense and Figueirense of Brazil’s top division Série A.
2. The New Signings Are Coming Through
Making the playoffs is a major goal for the Quakes, but beyond that, Jesse wants to fully integrate the new signings into the club by making sure that they understand why they are Quakes players. He wants them to adapt well and contribute to the team. So far, new singings Danny Hoesen, Jahmir Hyka, Florian Jungwirth and Marco Ureña have left their marks with three goals and four assists, and Jesse is impressed with they way they have integrated into the squad. He sees the new guys as being part of the team that continues to play more dynamic and quicker soccer.
3. Building the Club Identity is Key
Jesse said it himself with “identity comes before any person.” This identity that Jesse is working to build is one that instills confidence and fun in the approach that the Quakes use in every area. This identity is also one of consistency, and whether the Quakes play at home or away, Jesse wants the team to stand for a certain game. Based on what he has seen so far this season, and the courage that the team has shown to come from behind and get points in three of the seven matches, Jesse is confident that the Quakes are capable of doing this.
4. No Pre-Pensioned Players this Summer
With the summer transfer window approaching, Jesse wants to make sure the Quakes have a method in place regarding how they scout, recruit and gain market intelligence.
While he and the technical staff are still exploring positions that they could bring in during the summer, Jesse says it will be someone in the center of the game – whether it is in defense, the midfield or attacking midfield – and is currently exploring a few “interesting opportunities.”
One thing that is certain, the Quakes will not bring in a “pre-pensioned player” as Jesse called it, as the new face will be under 28 years old. The technical staff will do their research too, utilizing video analysis and performance databases to see how the player reacts to situations on the field and make sure he is a right fit for the club. They will also make sure that the personality and mentality match the Quakes identity in order to be certain that he is ready to fight for a “hungry club.”
5. Youth Development is the Backbone of the Quakes
Developing youth talent is the single most important goal for the Quakes. Jesse is confident that the Quakes can develop important talent for the First Team, and feels an obligation to do so.
For Jesse, a fundamental of youth development is emphasizing the earlier years between U-12 through U-15 because as the player reaches the professional level, he will truly embrace the way the Quakes want to play. He believes that the youth development system should also provide the player with an education for life.
Utilizing the affiliate teams, Burlingame Dragons FC and Reno 1868 FC, as way to give experience to players that may one day compete on the First Team is also a fundamental. With Chris Leitch as the technical director for the Quakes, Ian Russell as the head coach of Reno 1868 FC and Joe Cannon as the head coach for Burlingame Dragons FC, Jesse is sure that the Quakes have the resources to develop young players.
Earthquakes homegrown defender Nick Lima and midfielder Tommy Thompson are great examples of what the Quakes youth programs can produce. Similarly, this past weekend, the Quakes Academy took third place at the Generation adidas cup, defeating the Philadelphia Union Academy 1-0 to secure the bronze.