According to Fox Sports, English midfielder Jamie O’Hara is trialing with the Quakes this week. My official guess: the Quakes have no intention to sign him. If anything, the Quakes are laying the groundwork to sign him this off-season when MPG’s DP slot becomes available (if I’m not mistaken).
O’Hara is a speedy midfielder whose career includes playing for Tottenham and Fulham, and coming up through the Arsenal academy. It would reunite O’Hara with Simon Dawkins, as both were part of the Tottenham system prior to Dawkins’s first tour in San Jose. Having both players on the team, along with Alberto Quintero and Anibal Godoy, would create a formidable Quakes midfield as O’Hara and Simon can play the left and right sides respectively.
The biggest obstacle to signing O’Hara is finding salary space. O’Hara would need to be a DP, and the Quakes already have their max amount of DP players. An option is to try and buy down his contract, or another DP’s contract, with Garber Bucks (Targeted Allocation Money). But the Quakes don’t have that much TAM after buying down Wondo’s contract with TAM, and using TAM on Anibal Godoy. They did get some from Columbus for Adam Jahn (unofficially I heard it was $50K), but that’s nowhere near enough to land a player like O’Hara. He would be a “mid-season” DP, which means the Quakes would only need to pay half an official DP salary, and every MLS team was awarded $800k in TAM his offseason, so it might be possible.
However, a second issue with signing O’Hara, and a reason why I don’t believe San Jose is looking to sign him immediately but this off-season, is that he does not fix the current problem the Quakes are trying to solve: scoring goals. A midfielder like O’Hara would help the Quake produce more chances, but the Quakes need that second productive forward to convert those chances. Why go after a midfielder when you need target strikers?
I would expect the Quakes to do one of two things before the close of the transfer window on Wednesday, August 3rd: sign a forward or not sign anyone and plan for next season, with O’Hara as their #1 target.