What Vako Means for the Quakes

June 23, 2017

The Quakes announced the signing of their newest designated player, Georgian attacking mid Valeri “Vako” Qazaishvili. The signing means changes both on and off the pitch.

The first major implication of the signing is the uncertain future of Quakes head coach Dom Kinnear. The Quakes are flirting with another season of “boring soccer” and disgruntled fans. Last season, the Quake set a record for the fewest goals per game in club history (0.94) and the Quakes are flirting with a similar average (1.00 as of today). Vako is a DP piece needed to create a dynamic attack, but Dom Kinnear is a conservative coach. If Kinnear doesn’t effectively utilize the pieces he’s been given by Fioranelli–which for all intents and purposes has been a significant upgrade compared to last season–in order to be a Western Conference contender, Kinnear probably won’t last the season. In fact, it appears Kinnear has lost control of his team asĀ rumors of players partying in Portland was made public by the San Jose Ultras, and I doubt he’ll be the head coach much longer.

The second implication is Wondo’s positioning on the pitch. Kinnear must reposition Wondo back into a forward’s role. In previous games, Wondo has been playing more as a midfielder, responsible for generating the attack rather than finishing. Wondo is not a midfielder, which is one of the many reasons why the Quakes haven’t scored a goal in their previous two games. Expect the Quakes to play different formations featuring a CAM, such as a diamond 4-4-2, once Vako is eligible to play, and Wondo to be positioned higher than he’s been this season.

Wondo’s positioning/pass map for the Quakes’ previous three games. Small circles equal fewer touches/passes. Wondo has been one of the most invisible players in the previous three games playing in the midfield, and a reason why the Quakes attack is so stagnant: Wondo is not an attacking midfielder, but a finisher.

Vako’s signing also signals the official end for Simon Dawkins, although the end was already solidified after last week’s game. Dawkins left his heart in San Francisco when he left the Quakes after the 2012 season, and when he returned, it was gone forever. Dawkins never realized his potential once he left, going from English perennial Tottenham Hotspur to Aston Villa to the bench at lower division’s Derby County; he simply stopped trying. While he could have rejuvenated his career with his return to San Jose and had his flashes of brilliance, Dawkins has been absent mentally and physically for the past two years. I’ve been privy to rumors that Dawkins has turned into another Innocent, opting not to practice with the team while collecting a huge paycheck. (Rather than have Dawkins on the roster last week versus Sporting KC, Dom Kinnear opted to play the match with just 16 players, which may confirm these rumors)

The big question that should be asked with Vako’s signing as a DP is simple: is he the quality player that can turn the team around? Usually a DP is a super-star from a successful national team or a staple from one of Europe’s major football leagues with a few good years left in their legs: dos Santos, Dempsey, Giovinco, Schweinstagger, Pirlo, David Villa, etc. They are a type of player that fans want to see and around which the team can be built. The signing of a Georgian midfielder who played in the Dutch Eredivisie reeks of a John Doyle-esque signing. Just like Innocent, Henok Goitom, and Simon Dawkins, Vako doesn’t have the pedigree of a major European league team and his nativeĀ Georgia is currently ranked #122 in the world. While Fioranelli has brought in gems like Flo Jungwirth and Jahmir Hyka, he’s also brought in duds like Marco Urena and Danny Hoesen (a combined two goals in 1800 minutes of play).

Fans should be cautiously optimistic with Vako’s arrival. If Vako becomes an MLS star (he’s only 24 and has a lot of upside), Fioranelli will have proven he knows how to scout and recruit players. Vako is a huge upgrade over Dawkins at any rate, and should be a catalyst for the Quakes this season to be a playoff team. However, I would be surprised if he’s the caliber player that can help the Quakes win a championship.

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