It’s the MLS All-Star break, and since San Jose fans won’t be able to watch any of their players take part in the festivities, we can still reflect on the season and give our players, coaches, and staff mid-season grades for the team’s performances thus far.
David Bingham – D+
Bingham has been a stud for San Jose in previous seasons, even earning his second USMNT call-up in January. However, Bingham’s distribution has always been a problem (routinely kicking the ball out of bounds on goal kicks, opting to hoof the ball forward rather than trust his defenders to advance it), which has put San Jose back on their heels far too often. A lapse in concentration led to an inexcusable own-goal in Kansas City, which proved to be the game winner. The Quakes defense also surrenders 2.1 goals per game on the road, so there is plenty of room for improvement for the man tasked with leading the San Jose defense.
28 – Andrew Tarbell – B+
Tarbell hasn’t been picked to start in a league match, but his undefeated (2-0) record in the U.S. Open Cup has given fans new hope. Not bad for a guy in his second season in MLS. He may see the starting position if the defense doesn’t improve.
Victor Bernardez – C+
Muma’s effort is there, but age is his enemy as he seems to be losing pace with each match. He’s already accumulated two red cards this season and has an own-goal. However, his defensive numbers are solid for an MLS center-back: 5.1 clearances per game, 2.7 interceptions per game, and 2.1 tackles per game. A good center-back, but well past his prime.
Cordell Cato – D
Cato’s natural position is a midfielder, but due to personnel issues (Marvell Wynne and Harold Cummings both unable to play), Cato was conscripted to play fullback to begin the season, hence his role as “defender” in the player grades. Cato never really acclimated to the role of defender and found his way off the starting XI when the Quakes played Colorado in favor of Shea Salinas. Cato’s defensive numbers thus far rank near the bottom for all Quakes defenders: 1.9 tackles per game, 1.8 interceptions per game, 0.9 clearances per game. Those numbers are poor even for a midfielder, hence his exit from the starting XI and a “D” grade.
Nick Lima – A-
Lima has exceeded expectations for the year, and should be a consideration for MLS Rookie of the Year. He’s already solidified his spot in the starting XI, and has two goals as a defender. He started off with a bang, but has regressed somewhat as the Quakes defense has been questionable on the road. He averages 2.2 interception, 2.1 tackles, and 3.3 clearances per game. He’s been excellent for the team as a rookie, given the relatively low expectations of him coming into the season.
Flo Jungwirth – B+
Flo has made the MLS Team of the Week three times, which is more than any other Quake. Despite not playing his natural midfield role, Flo has been exceptional as a center-back, and has done his part for the offense (two goals, two assists). However, he is part of the defense that has allowed a 2.1 goals per game road average, hence the “Above Average” but not “Excellent” grade.
Andres Imperiale – B-
Imperiale is a Jekyll-and-Hyde wildcard defender for San Jose: when he plays at home, he’s unstoppable, and when he plays on the road, he’s invisible. His first start didn’t come until June 17th, and he helped pitch the shut-out at home versus Sporting Kansas City. He started the next two games in which the Quakes won 2-1 and appeared to be a reliable center-back. However, his inconsistent alter-ego from last season emerged as the Quakes surrendered 12 road goals in their previous three games, all games which Andres started. However, once back home at Avaya, Andres again showed his best in San Jose’s 1-0 win over Colorado. At home, when “Imp Tuna” plays, the Quakes surrender just 0.5 goals per game. On the road? 4 goals per game. Does it get more Jekyll-and-Hyde?
Fatai Alashe – C
Fatai has played in just 12 games this season, and only started 10. The Quakes’ record when he plays (4-4-4, 1.33 points per game) is slightly better than when he’s off the field (4-5-1, 1.3 points per game), so his absence has been negligible. Fatai’s numbers: 1.8 tackles, 1.4 interceptions, 2.3 clearances, zero goals, zero assists, 0.4 key passes per game. An average player who isn’t missing in the lineup = an average grade.
Darwin Ceren – C+
Ceren doesn’t contribute much on offense (0 goals, 1 assists, 0.4 key passes per game) or defense (3.1 tackles, 1.6 interceptions, 0.4 clearances per game), However, Ceren’s 86.6% pass completion rating, seven long-balls per game, and 1.1 dribbles per game help generate a Quakes offense and aid in the Quakes defense. His numbers are slightly higher than Fatai, and the Quakes’ overall record when he starts is 5-5-2 (1.42 points per game) is slightly better than Fatai, hence a slightly better grade at the same position.
Simon Dawkins – F
Dawkins is being paid a lot of money to do not a lot of work. On the year, Dawkins has only played in 14 games, and started seven of those. His offensive numbers are bad: zero goals, zero assists, 0.4 key passes, 0.5 dribbles, 2.2 turnovers per game. His defensive numbers are even worse: 0.2 tackles, 0.4 interceptions, 0.1 clearances per game. This is a man who was defended as a DP (sorry, Daniel Sperry), but as we can see, clearly fails to make that pay-grade. Some will cite off-season injuries as the source of Dawkins’s poor performance, but as Centerline Soccer showed in February, Dawkins should have been ready to play in 2017. Don’t be surprised if Dawkins is traded or released outright from the team in the near future.
Anibal Godoy – A-
Anibal Godoy is arguably the Quakes’ MVP. In Godoy’s 16 starts, the Quakes have an overall record of 7-5-5 (1.53 points per game) with a -2 goal differential. The Quakes currently sit on a -10 goal differential, which gives San Jose a -8 differential in games in which Godoy is not playing. The team needs him on the pitch. His numbers? 91% passing accuracy (amazing for a distributing midfielder), two goals, 1 key pass per game, six long balls per game, and 1.2 dribbles per game. Defensively Godoy is gold for a midfielder: 2.2 tackles, 1.8 interceptions, and one clearance per game.
Jahmir Hyka – B-
Confession: I really want to see Jahmir Hyka do well in San Jose. I feel he has a great skill-set, and his youth gives a lot of potential. However, when you examine Hyka’s numbers in San Jose, he has room for improvement. He does have three goals and four assists, averages 2 key passes per game and completes nearly 87% of his passes. But considering that the Quakes have already played 22 games, rank near the bottom in MLS in total offense (24 goals in 22 games, 1.09 goals per game), and could challenge last year’s club record for fewest goals per game, he needs to do better. He also has a 27% shot conversion rate, which means just one of every four shots has a chance of scoring. Futhermore, Hyka averages three turnovers per game. Yes, he’s above average as Quakes players go, but not by much.
Shea Salinas – C-
Shea excelled in his role as a “Super Sub.” He scored the game-winner at Stanford and has helped the Quakes get some “Goonie Time” points, after all. When he’s a sub, he’s great. What brings down his grade is the team’s record with Shea as a starter: 1-3-0 with a -8 goal differential. He also has just one shot on goal in almost 450 minutes played. Ouch.
Tommy Thompson – C
This year was supposed to be Tommy Thompson’s coming-out party, and while Thompson has finally impacted the score sheet, he’s done so sparingly. In 20 appearances (10 of which he’s started), Tommy has two goals and one assist; pedestrian at best. He averages one key pass, one dribble, and two turnovers per game. His numbers might improve with more starts.
Vako – INC
It’s too early to give a grade for Vako given his recent arrival and the fact he has yet to start a game for San Jose. He did score in his San Jose debut, but so did Matias Perez Garcia. Jury is still out.
Jackson Yueill – B
It didn’t take long for the Quakes’ 2017 MLS SuperDraft Generation Adidas first-round pick Jackson Yueill to earn a spot in the starting XI. While it’s nice to see a new face in the lineup, Yueill’s numbers show he is still learning how to play professionally. Yueill has four starts on six total appearances with just two shots, of which on goal. The upside is that Yueill averages 1.5 key passes per game. While his numbers aren’t great, the fact that he’s a rookie who’s earned a starting spot gives him a few extra points on the grading scale. If this were his third or fourth year in MLS, he’d be in trouble.
Danny Hoesen – B
Hoesen’s numbers are good for a guy that only has 13 starts (22 appearances total). Two goals, four assists, nearly two shots per game (39 shots on the season thus far); clearly above average for a guy that is considered a bench player. But the flaws are there: 2.2 unsuccessful first-touches per game and a 28% shot conversion rate, hence the overall B grade.
Marco Urena – D
A Jesse Fioranelli signing that has yet to produce any noticeable impact for San Jose. Two goals, two assists, and just 33 total shots in 15 starts. His shot conversion rate of 42% is the team’s highest, but his lack of production as a starter has put San Jose at the bottom-half of the standings and out of playoff contention (for now). At this rate, Urena will finish the season with three goals.
Chris Wondolowski – A-
At 34 years old, Wondo should not be expected to shoulder the scoring burden for San Jose. Yet that is exactly what he has done: eight goals, five assists, 43 shots, and a 35% shot conversion rate. The man is doing everything he can to help San Jose reach the playoffs, but his effort alone won’t be enough to put San Jose into the playoffs. What prevents Wondo’s grade from being an A is the fact that he is the team’s captain, and while the team has shown some progress, he has not been able to galvanize his squad into a consistent winner.
Coaches & Staff
Chris Leitch – C
Leitch took over as the head coach of San Jose just over a month ago. While the team is in transition (rebuilding?) yet again, Leitch has shown himself to be a competent coach with some learning on the horizon. Leitch’s home record is 1.000 while his road record is 0.000. He is two wins away from potentially winning the U.S. Open Cup, but those two wins will have to come on the road, which has been Leitch’s kryptonite as a head coach.
Jesse Fioranelli – B
Fiornaelli has made moves, big ones. His goal is simple: make San Jose into a winner. He’s brought in numerous players, including DP Vako, to give San Jose practically a whole new identity. However, his mid-season coaching shake-up has rattled his team out of the playoff line as new head coach Chris Leitch learns his new role in the middle of the MLS season. Time will tell if these moves were the correct ones or not, but at this point, anything is better than the John Doyle era.