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…on Geovanni brightening up San Jose’s dull season

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Geovanni - Could well turn this season around for San Jose

Geovanni - Could well turn this season around for San Jose

I have to nail my colours to the mast; when it comes to MLS, I am a San Jose Earthquakes fan. Like most, I was fairly surprised when the announcement was made that the Quakes were in the hunt for a DP. I’ve become somewhat weary and apathetic towards the Quakes front office and I don’t think I am alone. Toronto, Seattle and now New York have raised the bar in each of their own ways and, maybe more than most, the Quakes have not upped their game accordingly. It hasn’t been a disastrous season but recent results have been patchy. To kick on and get to the playoffs for the first time since the team were brought back in ’08, they definitely need a spark and Geovanni could well be that spark. They need a new playmaker, if only to lift the spectre of Darren Huckerby.

For John Doyle and Frank Yallop, at whom a lot of mud has been thrown, it’s about making sure you progress year-on-year. Nobody expects anything in your first year. There’s usually very little in the expansion draft and the Superdraft that can really make an impact and those players generally fill out the squad. It comes down to who you get allocated, who you can file a discovery on or who you can pick up off waivers. As a result, it’s little surprise when you finish bottom of your conference with one of the worst records in the league.

However, in the second and third seasons, progress is expected, as the squad is built. Early draft picks should have improved, sensible trades should have been made and better quality players should have been signed. Unfortunately, the squad building has not always come off. Huckerby, Sealy and Lima were signed in 2008, playing well and raising hopes. Last season, the latter two were gone and Huckerby’s fragile hip was completely destroyed. As a result, the squad was back to square one and the impact of having a direct runner like Huckerby was both positive and negative, given you miss what he doesn’t bring. It’s a shame for Yallop especially. In his previous tenure in San Jose, he had success by cultivating good players and finding role players in the squads of other teams. However, he also had a core of good players to call on; the assured defender, the midfield creator, the best American attacker of his generation. Without the right core of good players, Yallop’s teams tend to become predictable. Doyle and Yallop need to learn from their lesson and show progress this season. Making the playoffs would do that and demonstrate what can be done with the right players. Signing Geovanni could also show they are learning their lessons.

Part of the problem with Huckerby is that the injuries were already catching up with him by the time he got to San Jose. The hip injury that eventually ended his career was pre-existing and degenerative. By signing Geovanni, two years younger and with a lot less miles on the clock, it seems that Yallop and Doyle know what they want and want to get it. Rather than nibble around the edges and doing it on the cheap, as has been the franchise’s wont, they’ve gone and taken a big bite. No signing injured Haitians or signing players looking to rebuild their career, they decided to go and get the best player they could. Even if Geovanni is earning just $1 more than the $335,000 limit, it still feels like a watershed. I think they’ve got the player that, should he remain injury-free, could kick them on.

Yallop has his midfield playmaker. Doyle has a honeypot to attract other players. Geovanni is one-part creative passer, one-part direct runner and is capable of the spectacular. He is a very solid signing. The two questions for me are consistency and longevity. He started very well at both Hull and Man City but, over the longer term, he had trouble nailing a place down. I jokingly call him the Brazilian Lee Chapman, after the former Arsenal and Nottingham Forest striker. Like Chapman, Geovanni has never quite made good on his early good play at a club. I hope I’m wrong on this one though and Geovanni not only sparks a revival this season but continues on next season so, for the first time since they returned in 2008, the Quakes can actually build year-upon-year without jamming the reset button in the off-season.

I also hope that this signing makes the Quakes front office realise just how MLS is moving on and how doing it on the cheap isn’t going to cut it for the long term. I understand their reluctance to be reckless and they have delivered so many things thus far. However, they need to knock peoples’ socks off and get some positivity. A winning team and, in the near future, an impressive stadium would show how committed they are to making this work. Playing in a cheap, average stadium, with a team full of average players and operating well within the salary cap is just going to build negativity. Being bold will do the opposite. I hope they try to go for it more often and, for me, it starts with redesigning the new stadium.

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Written by Michael Farrow

August 18, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Posted in Football

Tagged with , ,

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