Earthquakes sign Valeri ‘Vako’ Qazaishvili as latest Designated Player

Earthquakes sign Valeri ‘Vako’ Qazaishvili as latest Designated Player

(Editor's Note: The above video is from January 2017)

The San Jose Earthquakes announced today that the club has signed Georgia National Team attacking midfielder Valeri ‘Vako’ Qazaishvili as a Designated Player, pending receipt of his P-1 Visa and ITC. Qazaishvili scored for Georgia in their most recent World Cup qualifying match on June 11.

“We were looking for a player, a younger, offensive player, that really excites the fans and has the possibility to stay with us for a long period of time. That’s what we found with Vako,” said Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli. “We wanted a player that knows how to take on a defender one-on-one, that sees the goal and that also wants to bring a spark to our game.”

Qazaishvili, 24, becomes San Jose’s youngest ever Designated Player after six years with SBV Vitesse of the Dutch Eredivisie. He tallied 25 goals and 10 assists in 104 league games for the Dutch side, adding another three goals and three assists in other top-flight competition.

Qazaishvili began his career in his native Georgia with FC Saburtalo in 2010, spending time on loan with Metalurgi Rustavi and Sioni Bulnisi. He then moved on to Vitesse in August of 2011 at just 18 years old, tallying one goal in four appearances for the first team in his debut season.

From 2012-13 to 2013-14, Qazaishvili spent significant time with the U-21 squad, scoring 14 goals in 30 league appearances for the youth side and establishing himself as a first-team player.

Qazaishvili then scored nine goals during the 2014-15 Eredivisie season and a team-best 10 in 2015-16. He later spent the majority of the 2016-17 season on loan with Poland’s Legia Warsaw, helping them win the league championship with a 21-6-10 overall record.

In addition to his experience in league play, Qazaishvili has made eight appearances in international cup competition, including Europa League qualifiers, Europa League and UEFA Champions League. He appeared against clubs such as Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid in Champions League play.

He also has extensive experience playing with the Georgia National Team, scoring nine goals in 24 appearances at various youth levels and five goals in 23 appearances for the senior team.

Earthquakes media services

Defensive lapses cost Quakes in first loss of new season


Defensive lapses cost Quakes in first loss of new season


Is Saturday's road effort a sign of things to come or a new team trying to gel?

After a 2017 campaign where the San Jose Earthquakes struggled on the road -- especially defensively -- the 2018 season did not start much better in a 3-2 loss to Sporting Kansas City. 

"Of course, I am disappointed to be leaving here without points," said Quakes head coach Mikael Stahre, "but especially because in the first half and then in the first 15 minutes of the second we played really well."

The teams went into the half tied but Sporting Kansas scored twice in the second half, both times taking advantage of San Jose's gift of enough space for KC to take advantage of.

Chris Wondolowski scored for the Quakes -- putting him 10 goals away from Landon Donovan in the MLS all-time race and all alone in second place on that list. 

"I wish we could have won," Wondolowski said. "but credit to our team and Magnus [Eriksson] for putting that ball in there. To finish it was pretty cool, but hopefully we will get a couple more wins."

After conceeding a penalty halfway through the second half, Valeri Qazaishvili equalized in minute 34, following up his own header attempt and cashing in for his second goal of the seaon. 

But that would be all San Jose could muster for the majority of the second half.

Graham Zusi scored in the 56th minute on a beauty of a shot. 

Felipe Gutierrez will be awarded with the game-winner after a left-footed bullet beat Andrew Tarbell.  

San Jose (1-1-0) is winless in its last four against Sporting.

"We came here with ambition to win the game, or second best to leave with a point," Stahre said. "We fought until the end and it was really important for us to score the second goal, but I felt at halftime that we could have won the game. Then we conceded the second goal and we lost the momentum. They are a good team, but I think we can take some positive things with us."

Earthquakes media services contributed to this report.

Quakes choose young FIU defender with their first pick in 2018 MLS SuperDraft

Quakes choose young FIU defender with their first pick in 2018 MLS SuperDraft

The San Jose Earthquakes are hoping they've caught lighting in a bottle twice. 

Last season, Nick Lima emerged as one of the game's best young defenders. And on Day 1 of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, San Jose went to the fullback well with the selection of Paul Marie from Florida International University with the 12th pick in the first round. 

"Paul has the profile we were looking for from the very beginning heading into the combine and the draft," said Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli via press release. "We were looking for a fullback. We see in him an offensive-minded outside back that has technical qualities and the ability to read the game."

Experts pegged Marie, 22, as a late-first, early-second-round selection. But a pair of solid days during the MLS Combine boosted the Frenchman's stock -- especially on San Jose's board. According to Fioranelli, Marie was No. 4 on their draft board -- having him there at No. 12 must have felt like a steal for Fioranelli and staff. 

"We especially liked that he has character and in the interview that we had with him, he convinced us," Fioranelli said. "The entire coaching staff are really excited about having him part of the club."

San Jose not only lucked out that their fourth-best footballer was there at 12, but with American parents, he does not take up an international slot for San Jose -- the team is still three players over their allotment.

In an interview after his selection with Jason Davis of Sirius XM radio, Marie told San Jose fans what they can expect from the defender. 

"They can expect Paul Marie to give it all for San Jose," he said. 

The Quakes were in need of defensive depth going in to Day 1 of the SuperDraft. In Marie, they have a fullback who can stretch the pitch from the right side and be a backup to Lima.