Sneak Peek: Quakes seek help for Wondo

It's been rough going for the San Jose Earthquakes since they won the Supporters' Shield in 2012: four straight years without making the playoffs.

Instead of changing coaches, the Quakes fired general manager John Doyle in late August. His replacement, Jesse Fioranelli, was only hired in January following a long search, but quickly stamped his mark on the team.

Opening day ...
Projected XI -- Bingham, Lima, Jungwirth, Bernardez, Francis; Dawkins, Godoy, Alashe, Hyka; Hoesen, Wondolowski.

The Quakes' poor record with Designated Players -- the underperforming Matias Perez Garcia was traded last summer and unforgettable Innocent cut loose -- had a lot to do with Doyle's departure.

Fioranelli is trying a different tack. The Quakes will start the season without any Designated Players, but Fioranelli used tons of TAM to bring in four players from Europe, where he has lots of connections: German defender Florian Jungwirth, Albanian winger Jahmir Hyka, Dutch forward Danny Hoesen and Costa Rican forward Marcos Urena.

The moves were made with one thing in mind: find help for Chris Wondolowski up front. Wondo has scored an MLS record 10 or more goals in seven straight seasons but the Quakes finished with just 32 goals in 34 games, the fewest in MLS. The two key additions are Hoesen and Hyka.

Hoesen is only 26 but has spent time at Ajax and Groningen in the Netherlands and PAOK in Greece.

“Danny Hoesen gives us a player with a strong frame that is tall," says Fioranelli, "but also has a fast pace. He can attack the space in counterattack situations. He can also work in tandem with whichever striker will be supporting him."

Hyka, dubbed "The Albanian Messi," has been a fixture in the starting lineup at Lucerne in Switzerland for the last five and a half seasons.

"Hyka brings an element of surprise to any team and to any match," says Fioranelli. "Being a player that is very strong technically, he attacks the defense in one-on-one situations without any indication of which way he will go or the pass that he will be making. This means that our strikers will be well served and the element of surprise will allow us to attack from many fronts."

Who's in ...
GOALKEEPERS: none. DEFENDERS: Harold Cummings (Alajuelense/CRC, Transfer), Florian Jungwirth (Darmstadt/GER, Transfer), Nick Lima (Univ. of California, Homegrown). MIDFIELDERS: Jahmir Hyka (Lucerne/SUI, Transfer), Jackson Yueill (UCLA, SuperDraft). FORWARDS: Danny Hoesen (Groningen/NED, Loan), Marcos Urena (Brondby/DEN, Transfer).

Who's out ...
GOALKEEPERS: Bryan Meredith (Seattle Sounders, Re-Entry Draft). DEFENDERS: Clarence Goodson, Kofi Sarkodie, Jordan Stewart. MIDFIELDERS: Leandro Barrera (San Martin de San Juan/ARG, Loan), Alberto Quintero (Lobos BUAP/MEX, Loan Expired). FORWARDS: Chad Barrett (Real Salt Lake, Free Agent), Henok Goitom, Innocent, Steven Lenhart (FC Imabari/JPN, Free Agent), Mark Sherrod.

First five games ...
March 4 -- Montreal Impact
March 11 -- Vancouver Whitecaps
March 18 -- at Sporting KC
April 1 -- at New York City
April 8 -- Seattle Sounders

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