The San Jose Earthquakes signed Oswaldo Alanis on a season-long loan from Chivas de Guadalajara. Here is an analysis of the acquisition and what it means for the 2020 season.
Last week, the San Jose Earthquakes signed Oswaldo Alanis on loan from Chivas de Guadalajara of Liga MX. The deal is an intriguing one. There are questions over whether center-back is the greatest need for the Earthquakes, but depth is required and Alanis provides international experience that cannot be ignored.
Here, I break down what the move means for San Jose, the positives and negatives of the deal, and how it shapes the outlook of the 2020 season.
Oswaldo Alanis is an experienced 30-year-old center-back who has played most of his career in Liga MX with a brief spell in Spain. He did not get a single appearance for Getafe and was released after a single month, but he did feature in 24 games for Real Oviedo in the second division. He has been a full Mexico National Team international since 2014, racking up 21 appearances in total — he was named to the preliminary 2018 World Cup squad but just missed out on a seat on the plane.
His resume isn’t the flashiest, especially compared to other Mexican stars to have appeared in MLS, such as Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Carlos Vela, the dos Santos brothers, or the latest arrival in Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, but he can certainly be useful in improving the defense.
Matias Almeyda was only able to secure a loan transfer during despite the Guadalajara connection with Alanis. I understand the primary window for MLS clubs is from February 12 to May 5, but Los Angeles FC made three permanent transfers from outside of MLS, including Dutch international goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer and LA Galaxy added the likes of Aleksandar Katai, Emiliano Insua, and the aforementioned Javier Hernandez.
There is not much that can be done about the LA teams being a preferred destination for star players coming to MLS, but the San Jose Earthquakes’s transfer policy appears flawed when linked transfer target Alan Pulido swapped Guadalajara for Sporting Kansas City. Sporting KC did win the 2013 MLS Cup and three U.S. Open Cups in the previous decade, but the San Francisco Bay Area should be a bigger draw than Kansas City.
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Who would you start? The San Jose Earthquakes have a bit of a dilemma on their hands. Florian Jungwirth, Guram Kashia, and now Oswaldo Alanis are all capable starting center-backs at the MLS level. Surely Alanis wasn’t brought in to sit on the bench, and although Jungwirth and Kashia were part of a defensive unit that didn’t make the playoffs last year, it would be harsh to drop either of them. Jungwirth is a versatile player who can play left-back, but that appears to be Marcos Lopez’s spot.
A possibility is a back-five-based formation that includes all three center-backs and Lopez and Nick Lima as the wing-backs. But if Matias Almeyda was to drop one of his two starting center-backs for Alanis, it would likely be Kashia, although the jury is still out on that. One thing is for sure: without further offensive reinforcements, there will be added pressure for all defenders to concede fewer goals than last season.
With the MLS season yet to begin, we won’t know for sure what to expect. It is unrealistic to expect Oswaldo Alanis to be the difference maker between the San Jose Earthquakes making or missing the playoffs. Given that multiple Western Conference clubs have strengthened in more positions this offseason, San Jose’s slightly stagnant window is a little concerning. Alanis’ arrival can certainly be productive and bringing in one good signing can have a magnetic effect and attract more players later in the season, but the Earthquakes are relying on continuity to see them through.
This is the core of a team that narrowly missed the playoffs last year. They showed flashes of brilliance, yes, but they ultimately fell short. With a little over three weeks before MLS kicks off its 25th season, there is reason for optimism, of which Alanis is a part, but the San Jose Earthquakes could still do with more.