The San Jose Earthquakes have just given their fan base a late Christmas present in the form of striker Danny Hoesen. The 26-year-old spent the 2017 season on a one-year loan with San Jose from FC Groningen in the Netherlands. When his ‘buy option’ after the campaign wasn’t exercised, fans had to anxiously await news of whether one of their favorite players would be returning in 2018.
The tall striker of Dutch-Moroccan descent had a bit of an up-and-down season to the naked eye. Five goals and five assists in MLS play, which both ranked tied for second on the club, don’t necessarily jump off the page. After all, Chris Wondolowski finished with 13 goals and eight assists at the age of 34.
But what isn’t clear on paper is how his role changed throughout the season and what he was asked to do on the field. Under head coach Dominic Kinnear during the early part of the 2017 season, Marco Ureña was favored as the team’s lone out-and-out striker and Hoesen was asked to contribute off the bench. He played fewer than 100 total minutes over the first six games of the year and started just one of the team’s first eight overall matches – with the club going 2-2-3 in that span
He moved into a more permanent week-to-week starter role in Week 9 at Minnesota and helped the Quakes go 5-3-2 over the next 10 games, despite the lion’s share of his minutes being played on the right wing instead of his preferred striker position. More than one-third of the way through the season and Hoesen had tallied just one assist, no goals. Something clicked for him in late May. Perhaps it was his comfortability with his teammates or finally getting used to the strenuous travel schedule, but his performance down the stretch showed his true potential. In his final 15 starts of the season, he totaled five goals and four assists while also scoring a team-high three goals during U.S. Open Cup play, with one strike in three consecutive games. His value and technique were on full display.
Here’s a quick review of the major moments he played a factor in:
- One goal and one assist in the team’s first matchup with the LA Galaxy on May 27.
- One goal and one assist (game-winner) in the team’s vastly important match against RSL on June 17.
- Game-winning goal after entering as a substitute in U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 vs. Seattle Sounders FC on June 28.
- Game-winning assist to Shea Salinas in the dying moments of the Cali Clasico on July 1.
- Game-winning goal vs. LA Galaxy on July 10 to push Quakes to semifinal of Open Cup for first time since 2004.
- Game-winning goal against the red-hot Houston Dynamo on Sept. 16.
- Game-winning goal against the rival Portland Timbers in a critical late-season matchup on Sept. 30.
- Opening goal on Decision Day on Oct. 22 to help Quakes clinch playoff spot.
With a new head coach in the fold, Hoesen’s role – whether at center forward or elsewhere – will have to be decided. But it’s safe to say the Quakes are a more dangerous team going forward with him on the roster.