The San Jose Earthquakes filled their third Designated Player spot Saturday, announcing the signing of Swiss International forward Innocent Emeghara.
Emeghara, 25, is the youngest of San Jose’s three designated players, joining fellow striker Chris Wondolowski, 32, and 2014 acquisition Matias Perez Garcia, 30. Emeghara is the fourth 25-or-under striker San Jose has signed this offseason, along with Kris Typrak, 22, Mark Sherrod, 24, and Leandro Bererra, 23.
The designated player rule in MLS allows teams to sign players outside the constraints of the salary cap, either by paying a higher salary or a transfer fee.
Although the desire to sign a third designated player has been publicly discussed by the club since the arrival of new head coach Dominic Kinnear in October, Emeghara’s name had not been linked with the club until a few rumblings on Twitter late Friday evening.
Like Perez Garcia before him, Emeghara isn’t exactly a household name, but general manager John Doyle believes the new singing with bolster an attack that finished dead last in scoring in 2014:
“We are excited to sign a player of his quality. He is a player in the prime of his career who has played at the highest levels and we are happy to bring him here on a long-term deal. I would like to thank ownership and Dave Kaval for their commitment to signing a third Designated Player.”
Emeghara has played for seven clubs across Europe in his nine year professional career, including a short spell at French Ligue 1 outfit Lorient where he scored five goals in 28 appearances. Most recently, he played for Qarabag Agbam in the Azerbaijan Premier League where he tallied five goals in eight matches.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Emeghara moved to Switzerland at the age of 13, and to date has made nine appearances for the Swiss International team between 2011 to 2013.
Emeghara is the first player without MLS experience that San Jose has signed this offseason, and will likely be paired up top alongside the prolific Wondolowski, making for an all DP attack. The Earthquakes hope this will take some pressure off Wondo who was the Earthquakes only real goal scoring threat in 2014.
Kinnear mentioned the club was still looking to sign two more players during Monday’s training camp media day. With the signing of Emeghara, San Jose maybe looking to sign a facilitator to improve the link up play between the midfield and improved strike force.