Standing 5’6″ and weighing in at 140 pounds, Yannick Djalo would be easy to miss walking down the streets of San Jose.
However, on the field at Buck Shaw Stadium, the blazing midfielder simply can’t be ignored. Djalo, who the club picked up on loan back on March 10, has played a grand total of 56 minutes for the San Jose Earthquakes. Still, the 27-year-old, who previously logged time at Sporting and Benfica—two of the most storied club’s in Portugal—has already made quite the impression.
In the 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew on April 13, the midfielder entered the game at the start of the second half, and it was no coincidence that the Quakes scored a goal is just a matter of minutes. In an interview with Ted Ramey on KNBR 1050 on Monday, TV color analyst Chris Dangerfield remarked that the introduction of Djalo had “inspired” the squad. At times, it appeared as though the ball had trouble keeping up with the winger as he bombed down the sideline.
Dangerfield dubbed Djalo a “game-changer.” That’s exactly what the Quakes, who have scored just five goals in the first four league games, need. To be fair, head coach Mark Watson has no shortage of options when it comes to the wings. Cordell Cato is currently holding down the right flank, and Shea Salinas, who has been a veritable fountain of assists, is going nowhere on the left side of the midfield.
For now, that’s a good problem for Watson to have. As Dangerfield put it in his interview with Ramey, Djalo is “the kind of player you want in your organization because he can excite the fans.”
His teammates have taken notice too. Chris Wondolowski described the new Quake as a “special player,” who can “kind of make something out of nothing,” via Geoff Leeper of MLSSoccer.com.
According to Dangerfield, Djalo also has the ability “to score, create goals and take pressure off Wondolowski.”
That last part could just prove to be the most important. The diminutive midfielder is, of course, an entirely different type of player than the absent and bruising Steven Lenhart. With the club’s primary target man on the shelf for at least a couple of weeks as he recovers from a sprained left MCL, the Quakes will need to take pressure off Wondolowski by whatever means necessary.