FEATURE: Acquisition of Quintana is low-risk, high-reward move for San Jose

On Wednesday afternoon, the San Jose Earthquakes added a much-needed piece to their roster in the form of 6-4 center back Yeferson Quintana. Quintana checks several boxes for the Quakes in their need for a young, big-bodied defenseman. He joins the club on a season-long loan with an option to buy.

The back line was one of the Quakes’ biggest issues in 2017. Season-long injuries to Marvell Wynne and Harold Cummings cut the team’s depth short even before the first ball had been kicked. Ultimately the defense was shuffled more than a deck of cards in a Las Vegas casino just to keep healthy players on the field.

But several moves made this offseason have helped shore up some of the team’s inefficiencies heading into 2018. Swedish left back Joel Qwiberg gives the team a young, left-footed wingback capable of contributing on both ends. Last season alone, he tallied four assists in 30 league appearances for Brommapojkarna. For comparison’s sake, Jordan Stewart and Shaun Francis, the club’s last two primary left backs, had four total assists in 140 appearances for the Quakes between 2013-17.

Center back Jimmy Ockford, who was Reno 1868’s anchor in 2017, is another signing that provides depth. As an American, he can also be a valuable contributor during the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup competition this season when the team is only allowed five active internationals. Don’t expect 16-year-old Jacob Akanyirige to make a significant impact with the First Team this year, but he will continue to develop under the daily watch of head coach Mikael Stahre and the assistant coaches.

Now turn the page to the 21-year-old Quintana, whose acquisition could do wonders for San Jose. If he proves to be starter-quality, in addition to Cummings returning to the field, it could open the door for Florian Jungwirth to move back to his preferred ‘6’ role as a defensive midfielder should Stahre prioritize that. Best-case scenario, he’s a 6-4 center back that proves to be a dominant presence in the penalty area on both ends of the field. The Quakes can snap him up on a permanent transfer with an already-agreed-upon buy option and he becomes a centerpiece for the team to build around for years to come. Worst-case scenario, his loan expires and he returns to Uruguay with the Earthquakes holding no further obligations at season’s end.

Win-win scenario for the Bay’s team.

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