The Case Against Simon Dawkins

The San Jose Earthquakes have struggled with their designated player signings. Forward Geovanni, the club’s first DP signing in 2010, played 14 games (12 regular season, two playoff) and scored just one goal. Forward Innocent has been with the club over a year a half, has collected over $1 million in salary, yet has 13 appearances with one goal. Midfielder Matias Perez Garcia found himself on the bench and eventually traded to Orlando City SC this season after struggling during his first two seasons with the team: three goals and nine assists in two years. Now it may be time to add midfielder Simon Dawkins to the list of Quakes DP busts.

Is Simon Dawkins a DP Caliber Player?

Simon Dawkins is in his second tour with San Jose. His first came via loan from Tottenham Hotspur in 2011 and 2012. Dawkins was a key contributor in San Jose’s 2012 Supporter’s Shield squad in which he scored eight goals in 27 appearances. Yet Dawkins’s return to England cast a pall on his career. Dawkins never saw playing time with Tottenham, was loaned to Aston Villa where he saw just four appearances with the Lions. Eventually he wound up with Derby County in England’s second division. There, Dawkins started off hot: three goals in 13 appearances while on loan, but once he was signed, he scored just four goals in 50 appearances, and found himself off the starting XI when San Jose began courting him.

Examining Dawkins Numbers

This season, Dawkins is a regular contributor to the Earthquakes’ less-than-stellar offense. San Jose is currently tied for last in the West with 25 goals scored. In 20 games, Dawkins has three goals and two assists, a 20% shot-conversion rate, and averages 1.3 key passes per game. These numbers are nearly identical when compared with his non-DP attacking midfielder counterpart Alberto Quintero: three goals, three assists, 37% shot conversion rate, and 1.2 key passes per game. Just because Dawkins produces offense does not mean he is doing it at the rate expected of a designated player as Quintero also contributes the same amount of offense for much less money.

However, one argument perceptibly in Simon Dawkins’ favor is that he is great on the ball. Dawkins averages 1.6 dribbles per game, which is tops for San Jose. Yet Dawkins also averages 1.8 dispossessions per game, which is also tops for Quakes midfielders. Quintero averages just one dispossession per game, and 1.2 dribbles. It’s difficult to tout Dawkins’s ball skills when he is dispossessed twice as much as Quintero.

The most damning evidence against Dawkins might be his defense, or lack thereof. Dawkins averages 0.9 tackles and 0.4 interceptions per game, the worst of all Quakes starting midfielders. Quintero completely outshines Dawkins defensively: two tackles per game, and 1.2 interceptions per game. Quintero not only produces just as much offense as Dawkins, but holds the ball better and contributes significantly more on defense.

Comparing Dawkins With Similar Players in MLS

When compared to other starting DP attacking midfielders across MLS, Simon Dawkins’s numbers are lacking.

Player/Stat Goals Assists KP/G* SoG* Disp*
Shkelzen Gashi (Rapids) 4 3 2.6 29 1.6
Federico Higuain (Crew) 3 3 2.6 12 1.4
Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas) 3 7 3.1 10 2.6
Steven Gerrard (Galaxy) 3 11 1.9 11 0.9
Ignacio Piatti (Impact) 13 3 3 31 3.1
Frank Lampard (NYCFC) 9 1 0.9 16 0.2
Andrea Pirlo (NYCFC) 1 5 1.9 5 1.1
Sacha Kljestan (NYRB) 5 14 3.4 28 1.4
Kaka (OCSC) 4 8 2.5 15 1.5
Diego Valeri (Timbers) 10 5 3.5 27 2.2
Simon Dawkins  3 2 1.3 9 1.8
Graham Zusi (Sporting KC) 1 4 2.3 8 0.9
Pedro Morales (Whitecaps) 6 6 1.3 21 1

*KP/G = Key Passes/Game, SoG = Total Shots on Goal, Disp = Average dispossessions per game

Dawkins ranks near the bottom in goals, assists, key passes per game, and shots per game. He ranks near the top in dispossessions per game. He is statistically the least productive player among attacking midfielders.

Dawkins is a good player with occasional flashes of brilliance, but is he “DP quality?” When you compare San Jose’s lack of offense, the fact that he is being out-contributed by a non-DP midfield teammate, his performance versus other starting attacking midfielders, and his recent run of poor form in Tottenham, Aston Villa, and Derby County, the evidence is clear. Simon Dawkins should be considered another Quakes DP bust.