San Jose Earthquakes chief discusses long-running pursuit of Simon Dawkins

The 28-year-old attacker joined San Jose from Derby County this week on a Designated Player deal, having previously spent two seasons on loan at the MLS club during his time with Tottenham Hotspur.

The San Jose Earthquakes turned to a familiar face this week to help bolster their attack, bringing back former fan favourite Simon Dawkins in their biggest move of the offseason so far.

The 28-year-old winger previously spent two seasons on loan at the MLS club from boyhood side Tottenham Hotspur between 2011 and 2012, when he established himself as an instrumental part of their 2012 Supporters' Shield-winning side.

San Jose ultimately proved unsuccessful in their bid to keep him permanently, but having kept in close contact with the Jamaica international ever since, their patience has now been rewarded.

On Tuesday night, Dawkins finally returned to California after a three-year absence, signing on a free transfer from Derby County to end a long-running pursuit of his signature.

Speaking to the Earthquakes’ official website, general manager John Doyle explained: “We always held Simon in the highest regard as a player and a person, so he was always someone on our list.

“Whenever I was in Europe, I got to stop by and talk to Simon and talk to his father. This year, I flew to Jamaica to meet with Simon and see where he was. I spoke to Sam Rush, the chairman at Derby, last year about Simon, so just gaging the interest.

“Finally, we were able to grab him. It’s been a long process. During that time, we’ve signed other players and looked at a lot of players. The timing was right with Simon. We were able bring him back to San Jose and we’re happy to have him.”

Dawkins recorded 14 goals and three assists in 53 regular season appearances during his first spell with San Jose, before the then-Tottenham prospect returned to England to join Aston Villa on loan for the second half of the 2012-13 Premier League campaign.

The pacey wide man eventually left Spurs permanently for Derby in January 2014, but after featuring 42 times for the Rams last season, the summer arrival of head coach Paul Clement saw him fall out of favour to the point where he made just one Capital One Cup appearance over the first half of this term.

Nevertheless, Doyle has not doubt that the Edgware-born attacker is a better player now than when he first left California and thinks his recent lack of action has made him even hungrier to succeed back in the States.

“I think he was an excellent player when he left,” Doyle added. “I think him playing for Jamaica helped. I think the travel and playing international soccer was good for him. He scored a big goal against Nicaragua to get them through to World Cup Qualifying.

“The time he spent at Aston Villa was good for him to play in front of big crowds. He hasn’t been playing for Derby lately, so he’s hungry to play. That’s one thing he said to me is that he wanted to get here and play and have a regular spot.

“I think we have a hungry player and someone who is excited to get back to San Jose. His quote to me was he had some ‘unfinished business in San Jose.’”

Dawkins’ signing comes after the Earthquakes scored just 41 goals in their 34 games last season – tied for only 17th in MLS, as they finished one spot and four points off a playoff place in the Western Conference.

It remains to be seen whether his return can help them recapture their success of 2012, but an attack featuring the likes of Chris Wondolowski, Matias Perez Garcia, Shea Salinas, a fit-again Innocent Emeghara and the former loan star should at least keep Dominic Kinnear’s side in postseason contention.

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