Back with a vengeanceBy: Ian | January 23rd, 2009
The San Jose Offside is back from its holiday break, and all I have to say is: what happened to the Quakes while I was gone? The Cannon saga was thankfully concluded with The Joe remaining in San Jose as he should, but it definitely left a bad taste in the mouth of most fans. Now the news comes down that Ronnie O’Brien has been packed up and shipped out to free up some cap space. Add in the expected departure of Lima, the likely move of Sealy, and the loss of Riley in the expansion draft, and we are left with more holes than we ended the season with. Our only additions have been two draft picks and an unproven USL player.
But all this would probably be acceptable if it wasn’t for the manner in which business has been conducted by the Quakes lately. It’s clear from O’Brien’s interview with Center Line Soccer that he is none too pleased with the way in which the Quakes waited until the last minute before cutting their ties with him. This is a sentiment that I definitely share. What is going on with the Quakes, seriously? The last game of the season left me with a feeling of great optimism. Then the Quakes decide to play hardball with a key player and fan favorite, Joe Cannon, asking him to take a pay cut and not picking up the option on his contract in a dangerous game of brinkmanship. Now instead of saving face, the Quakes have decided to shaft another key player and fan favorite (O’Brien).
It seems like Doyle and some of the big shots at the top are attempting to translate Moneyball into soccer terms. Seemed like a good fit at first: cash-strapped league with a salary cap, building a championship team from bargain parts, sounded like the same old Quakes recipe for success. But now we see the ugly side of what it means: treating players as if they are expendable parts, no matter their contribution and commitment. If there’s one sport where team chemistry and continuity is key to success, it’s soccer. Moneyball won’t work here. You can’t dismantle and build up a team every year and hope to lay the foundation for championships. Our glory years were directly a result of having a team that believed in one another, the club, and the fans. I fear that Moneyball MLS style will destroy morale, chemistry, and make San Jose an uninviting destination for any player we want to sign.
All the while, we are making room in our cap for a top-notch forward. No one will deny that we need such a player. But in pursuit of that piece of the puzzle we are punching new holes we may not be able to fix. Word to Doyle and company: keep Moneyball as far away from the Quakes as possible. Being cutthroat will lead us nowhere and as fans we want loyalty shown to those players who show loyalty to us.