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Keys to shocking MLS with new coach Gonzalez

As Luchi Gonzalez begins his tenure with the San Jose Earthquakes, he hopes to do something no Quakes coach has done since 2010: win a playoff series.

Gonzalez won a playoff round with FC Dallas in 2020, part of his three-year stint as manager there. He then served as an assistant coach with the US Men’s National Team during the 2022 World Cup before joining the Quakes, who opened the season at Atlanta United on Saturday (4:30 p.m., Apple TV+).

Gonzalez takes over from Matias Almeyda, who had a history of changing clubs in Mexico and Argentina but was unable to continue that success in more than three seasons in San Jose.

The Quakes lost 2-1 against the MLS competition this pre-season under Gonzalez.

“I feel like we accomplished a lot of those goals and built the brotherhood with the group, in terms of our team values ​​and culture, and our playing identity and style of play,” said Gonzalez. “We are excited to go to Atlanta, start early 2023 and show what we are capable of.”

The Quakes’ 12-year run without advancing in the playoffs is the second-longest drought in MLS history behind the Chicago Fire, who have not won a round since 2009.

The oddsmakers aren’t keen on a playoff breakthrough this year – DraftKings has the Quakes tied with expansion team St. Louis City SC for worst chances of winning the 14-team Western Conference 50-1.

Here are the keys if the earthquakes hope to overcome those expectations and their recent history:


Gonzalez had a strong record of developing talent during his time as an academy coach at FC Dallas.

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That makes him suitable for the Quakes, who may have three players at the U20 World Cup this year. Striker Cade Cowell, 19, midfielder Niko Tsakiris, 17, and midfielder Cruz Medina, 16, are indicative of the promising young players in the Quakes pipeline.

Cowell in particular is a rising star who has attracted interest from top European clubs such as AC Milan, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Newcastle, according to the football news website 90min. A speedy winger, Cowell has racked up nine goals and 12 assists since making his MLS debut in 2020.

At FC Dallas, where Gonzalez was the team’s academy director from 2012-2018 before coaching the first team from 2019-21, Gonzalez developed U.S. national team players Weston McKennie, Chris Richards, Jesus Ferreira, and Kellyn Acosta.


The Quakes scored 52 goals last season, fifth in the 14-team Western Conference, but finished in last place as they conceded 69 goals, 12 more than any other team.

That was partly due to Almeyda’s open system, but the players on the back line also played a role.

Gonzalez should have the team more organized and compact in the back this season, but the front office also worked on improving the talent level.

Ghana national team defender Jonathan Mensah was acquired on February 10 from Columbus, where he was team captain, won the MLS Cup and was a 2020 MLS Best XI selection. The arrival of Mensah came just days after Nathan, expected to be center back for the Quakes, tore his ACL in a preseason friendly.

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Mensah will lead a back line full of recentcomers. Peruvian left back Miguel Trauco, who comes from the French League 1, was signed in September. Equatorial Guinea fullback Carlos Akapo, who joined from La Liga in Spain, and Brazil centre-back Rodriguez were both signed in August.

There will also be a goalkeeper competition between JT Marcinkowski, the team’s starter for the past two years, and Daniel, a Brazilian who allowed 74 goals in 83 appearances for Internacional in Brazil’s top division.




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