How Simon Dawkins Changed San Jose's SeasonSimon Dawkins a perfect example of a player lost by MLS to Europe
by Luke James | Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Simon Dawkins was a huge asset to the San Jose Earthquakes in their 2012 Supporters’ Shield-winning season.
The value of attacking midfielders, or rather the lack thereof, can be argued when we saw San Jose’s 2012 triumph fall apart in 2013. The same can certainly be argued in Manchester at the moment, with Manchester United having lost successive home games for the first time since 2002. A whole lot of people are looking at the lack of a controlling midfield force in both Manchester and San Jose. Compare to what has happened to Arsenal so far this season with the addition of attacking midfielder Mesut Özil.
San Jose only rescued the tail-end of their season by shoring up their defense. This is not a current option for United, whose defense is either injured and/or aging and creaky. The difference is of course that Manchester United can and most likely will soon spend astronomical sums of money on new defenders and at least one key, world class midfielder. Sadly, San Jose couldn’t afford to pay what Tottenham Hotspur asked in 2012 if Dawkins was to remain a Quakes player
So where has Dawkins’ road from San Jose taken him? Spurs loaned him out to Aston Villa last season where he was lucky to find himself on the bench, much less in the starting XI. Still, a player wants to play and I’m sure Simon kept his head down, trained hard and believed in himself. He should, since he’s a player of considerable ability. At least by current MLS standards.
And that’s my point. Dawkins is currently playing with English Championship side Derby County in the league below the Premier League. He’s started 8 games this season and has scored 2 goals. Yet this is a young player MLS couldn’t afford to keep in the league.
So we see this parade continue. The old veterans, men of former prodigious talent shoving their reputations and glory days ahead of them as they cross the pond to eke out a few more seasons kicking a ball before the grim 30’s deadline steers them into coaching, dumps them into depression or worst still consigns them to journalism and punditry.
While in Europe and a good deal of the rest of the world new, young talent is trained, nurtured, developed and there’s a steady stream of jaw dropping young maestros filling the stadiums, boosting the viewership, making us thrill to the game we love.
Luckily, MLS has developed new retention funds to help keep players like Dawkins. These small funds allow teams – sometimes a small minnow compared to the giants fishes overseas who are hunting down MLS players who have success, like Graham Zusi, for example – the opportunity to keep some of their hardest-working and best players.
Dawkins would have fit the mold.
Had these funds been around in 2012, San Jose might have had a different year and made a push into the playoffs. He was essential to this being a winning side.
Maybe MLS wasn’t able to keep certain players around in the past, but this step forward might help teams like the Quakes for years to come.
NEXT UP: March 9 – San Jose Earthquakes vs. Colorado Rapids, Buck Shaw Stadium, San Jose, Calif. Time TBD, MLS live.