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Finding the Best Earthquakes Midfielders

Perhaps the biggest bone of contention for San Jose Earthquakes fans is who should be starting in the midfield, but that begs the question as to who are the best Earthquakes midfielders. Different starters would mean different formations, but head coach Dom Kinnear has been content to run a flat 4-4-2 when both midfielders Anibal Godoy and Fatai Alashe are healthy. This has left little room for the corps of attacking midfielders to get minutes and prove their worth, thus fanning the debate flames.

Best Earthquakes Midfielders

The following is a comprehensive analysis of statistics of non-defensive Earthquakes midfielders Simon Dawkins, Matias Perez Garcia (MPG), Alberto Quintero, Shea Salinas, and Tommy Thompson to show their 2016 production for the team based upon a 90 minute average. Those with the best stats should be considered to be the most productive midfielders. All stats were taken from,, or and are current as of this article’s publication date.

On Offense, Matias Perez Garcia and Shea Salinas Shine

When it comes to generating offense, none do it better than Matias Perez Garcia and Shea Salinas. Both have been subs off the bench, but their numbers are astounding. Salinas and MPG both average half a shot on goal per 90 and generate twice as many chances together than Dawkins, Quintero, and Thompson combined! They also average half an assist per 90, both of which trump the combined efforts of the regular starting rotation of Quintero and Dawkins. This has helped the Quakes maintain a 22-game consecutive goal-scored streak, the longest active streak in MLS. MPG and Salinas also generate more key passes and create more chances per 90 than their starting teammates by significant margins.

Name & Stat Goals Shots Shots on goal Assists Key Passes Chances Created
Salinas 0 0.59 0.59 0.59 2.60 2.65
MPG 0 0.97 0.48 0.48 4.40 4.35
Dawkins 0.15 1.69 0.31 0.15 1.50 1.54
Thompson 0 1.55 0.93 0.00 0.90 0.93
Quintero 0.14 0.71 0.14 0.14 1.30 1.28

Overall Offensive Rankings per 90 Minutes Played:

  1. Matias Perez Garcia
  2. Shea Salinas
  3. Simon Dawkins
  4. Tommy Thompson
  5. Alberto Quintero

Trust Matias Perez Garcia on the Ball

Matias Perez Garcia has the fewest turnovers while on the ball by a wide margin. Regular starter Alberto Quintero is only dispossessed 1.4 times per 90, where as his starting counterpart Dawkins has 2.3 per 90, nearly one more lost possession. Salinas, Thompson, and Dawkins all have work to do as all have over two dispossessions per 90.

MPG also shines in ball receptions, with just 0.5 unsuccessful first touches/90. Quintero and Dawkins seem to struggle on that first touch, as both fail to control the ball more than two times per 90.

Dispossessions Unsuccessful Touches
Thompson 3.1 1.9
Salinas 2.6 1.2
Dawkins 2.30 2.50
MPG 1.5 0.50
Quintero 1.40 2.30

Overall Ranking for Ball Control based upon Dispossessions + Unsuccessful Touches:

  1. Matias Perez Garcia
  2. Alberto Quintero
  3. Shea Salinas
  4. Tommy Thompson
  5. Simon Dawkins

Perez Garcia and Dawkins Lead Passing

Passing is a crucial area for midfielders as it helps maintain possession and generates attacks. Both Matias Perez Garcia and Simon Dawkins lead in passes per 90, but Quintero has the highest completion percentage. Based upon total successful passes completed per 90, Matias Perez Garcia is the most prolific, followed by Simon Dawkins and Alberto Quintero.

Passes/90 Completion % Total Completed Passes
MPG 63.4 68.90% 43.68
Dawkins 50.4 82% 41.33
Quintero 41.9 84% 35.20
Thompson 38.2 80.50% 30.75
Salinas 29.7 71.30% 21.18

Overall Ranking of Successful Passes:

  1. Matias Perez Garcia
  2. Simon Dawkins
  3. Alberto Quintero
  4. Tommy Thompson
  5. Shea Salinas

Thompson is the Defensive MVP

Too often fans forget the other half the game: the defensive half. Midfielders should be just as valuable on offense as defense. When it comes to trying the get the ball back on offense, Tommy Thompson has no equal. Tommy is not afraid to attack with 4.3 tackles and 3.7 interceptions per 90. Alberto Quintero is not afraid to challenge either, with 3.3 tackles and 1.6 interceptions per 90. Thompson, Quintero, and MPG all win more than 50% of their duels. Simon Dawkins and Shea Salinas leave room for improvement as both players rank at the bottom in tackles/interceptions per 90, and lose more than half their duels.

Tackles/90 Ints/90 Duels Won
Thompson 4.30 3.70 54%
Quintero 3.30 1.60 52%
MPG 2.40 1.90 53%
Salinas 1.50 0.30 35%
Dawkins 1.40 0.50 44%

Overall Rating on Midfield Defense:

  1. Tommy Thompson
  2. Alberto Quintero
  3. Matias Perez Garcia
  4. Simon Dawkins
  5. Shea Salinas

Overall Score

So who are the best Earthquakes midfielders? Offensively, MPG and Shea Salinas rack up the most offensive points with shots on target, assists, chances created, and key passes. MPG is great at maintaining possession and getting that first touch. Distributing the ball, Perez Garcia and Dawkins are the best as both complete over 40 successful passes per 90. Defensively, Tommy has no equal in terms of successful tackles and interceptions per game.

Overall, Matias Perez Garcia should probably be seen as the most productive Quakes midfielder based purely on the stats per 90 played, especially considering his ability to generate offense, control the ball, and distribute the ball. He’s also not too shabby on defense as well. The rest lies in the eye of the beholder.

Main Photo: Thearon W. Henderson, Getty Images


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