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Earthquakes go back to Europe to boost the defense

SAN JOSE — The Earthquakes boosted their flagging defense with the signing of Swiss center back Francois Affolter, the team announced Friday.
The move comes when coach Chris Leitch has had to rely on a makeshift backline because of injuries and suspensions. Affolter, who comes to Major League Soccer from FC Luzern of the Swiss Super League, signed a multi-year contract, pending receipt of a work visa and transfer papers approved by international soccer officials.
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Affolter, 26, is the fifth European signed by Jesse Fioranelli, a Swiss general manager who is hell bent on reshaping the Quakes in his first season. Affolter played with wide midfielder Jahmir Hyka at Luzern for the previous three years. Fioranelli also has signed Germany defender Florian Jungwirth, Dutch striker Danny Hoesen and attacking midfielder Valeri Qazaishvili of the Republic of Georgia.
Affolter, a 6-foot-1 defender, also played for SV Werder Bremen of the German Bundesliga while on loan in 2012, the year he represented Switzerland at the London Olympics.
“Having Francois join the club midseason will give us an injection of experience, having played at a high level, and technical ability,” Fioranelli said in a statement. “He is a tall, aggressive central defender that will surely boost the club as we push towards the postseason.”
Fioranelli added that the defender was signed as a free agent after three seasons in Luzern, where he had four goals and one assist in 101 league games.
Affolter joins San Jose (7-8-5, 26 points) as it fell to seventh place in the Western Conference after losing to the New York Red Bulls this week. The Quakes travel to sixth-place Seattle on Sunday.
The move to sign Affolter began in the preseason when Harold Cummings of Panama was lost for the year after breaking a leg while tripping in his home. The Earthquakes also lost versatile defender Marvell Wynne, who had open-heart surgery in March.
The health issues forced the team to employ Jungwirth in the central defense where he has performed admirably. Seldom-used Argentine defender Andreas Imperiale has been starting since Leitch took over last month for the fired Dominic Kinnear.
The latest signing could spell the end for central defender Victor Bernardez, 35, who is in his final year of his contract.
 
 

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