San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Simon Dawkins had his first “DP” game of the season; is he back to his old form, or was this simply an outlying performance for the Quakes’ newest designated player?
Welcome Back, Simon Dawkins?
In 2012, Simon Dawkins helped forward Chris Wondolowski win his second golden boot (a league-tying 27 goals) and helped lead the Quakes to 72 goals and 73 assists, both club records. During his first stint with San Jose, he put up 44 shots on goal in 53 games and averaged a goal every 3.375 games. It’s no wonder Quakes fans were so excited for his return; those are incredible numbers!
But 2016 brought a different Simon Dawkins to San Jose, and the 2012 version appeared to be dead. Prior to today’s match in his seven regular season 2016 starts, Dawkins had zero goals and one assist. He had zero shots on goal. He also led Quakes midfielders in dispossessions per game (two) and unsuccessful touches/game (two); only forward Quincy Amarikwa was worse for the entire team. The result? While he played, the Quakes averaged 0.58 goals per half, or 1.16 goals/game. If you count the minutes Dawkins was on the pitch during preseason, the numbers are even worse: 0.38 goals/half.
In the five halves, Dawkins did not play (the second half against the L.A. Galaxy, almost the entire New York Red Bulls match, and was suspended for DC United), the Quakes scored four goals, averaging 0.80 goals/half, or 1.60 goals/game. Say it ain’t so! The Quakes were statistically better offensively WITHOUT Simon!
Last week’s Sporting KC performance raised numerous red flags about the newest DP, and astute Quakes fans took note. Dawkins had zero key passes, two shots well off frame, 79% passing accuracy on 34 passes, zero accurate crosses on six attempts, and was subbed out at 75′. His only saving grace was drawing a penalty kick for Wondo, which was the game winner.
The first half of Philly looked to be another offensively impotent game with Simon on the pitch. The Quakes had zero shots on goal, were down 1-0, and down a man to boot. Dawkins had a key pass and a chance created via a cross, but the offense was never a threat to score. While these are not bad numbers, they are definitely not “designated player” numbers. Fortunately, things changed with midfielder Shea Salinas.
The Salinas sub for Innocent moved Dawkins to the middle of the pitch in which the Quakes played a 4-1-3-1, were able to control the midfield, and offense started to be generated. A through-ball here, a few corners there, and suddenly Philly was playing on their back foot despite being up a player. The attack bore fruit as a bad clearance went right to Dawkins just on top of the 18-yard box at 83′. In one brief instant, Simon channeled his 2012 persona, juked a few defenders to clear a shooting lane, and put a left-footed laser past Union goalkeeper Andre Blake for the equalizer.
By the end of the match, it was a night-and-day turnaround for #49 from the week prior. Simon Dawkins had a goal, two key passes, two accurate crosses on four attempts, two shots on goal (from almost the same spot), and completed 89% of his 35 passes. A great game by any standard.
The old Simon Dawkins emerged on Saturday, but was this a sign of things to come, or a sporadic flash of brilliance? Only time will tell, but fans of San Jose should remember one game is not indicative of an entire season, nor should Dawkins’s slow start cause undue panic. Rejoice in his great performance in Philly for now, and let’s see if he can keep channeling that 2012 form as the season moves forward.
Main Photo: Thearon W. Henderson, Getty Images