The reeling Earthquakes are ready to spend big money on the right player, but wholesale changes aren't being considered, president Dave Kaval said Monday, three days after the team lost its fourth in a row.
The last-place Quakes (4-8-4) are looking at about seven players during the monthlong FIFA transfer window that closes Aug. 8 to try to salvage the season and also inject enthusiasm into a club that is scheduled to open an 18,000-seat stadium next year.
"We need to get more attack-oriented players and we're in the process of doing that," said Kaval, addressing the team's dreadful start at the halfway point. "And if that includes spending additional monies, we're completely open to doing that. It just has to be the right player."
Kaval said the Quakes were looking at all options, including a willingness to spend upward of $1 million for talent.
"We're evaluating a variety of players at a variety of different costs," he said. "Those include players at a very high salary but also includes loans. Just spending a lot on a single player doesn't necessarily get you where you need to go.
"It's difficult week in and week out if you're losing, but that is when you can make the worst decisions."
Kaval won't compromise in one area: he gave coach Mark Watson a vote of confidence Monday, defending the team's overall play and scouting. The president also said the Earthquakes have enough time to reach the playoffs as they head to New York on Saturday to face the Red Bulls (5-5-8).
But San Jose needs to make up chunks of ground in its final 18 games, 11 on the road.
Kaval blamed the slow start on the absences of Chris Wondolowski and Victor Bernardez to World Cup duties. But the problems seem more endemic than losing two of the best players to their respective national teams.
Kaval acknowledged as much Monday, adding, "We feel we need a stronger midfield and more creative players because that is the way the league is going."
Such talent is expensive. San Jose ownership has not been willing to spend big since re-entering Major League Soccer in 2008. But Kaval said the opening of the stadium next year will increase the salary budget.
The president declined to identify players of interest but "you've seen in the league the most successful attacking players have come from other leagues or other countries, whether it is Argentina, Brazil or Portugal," he said. "We feel if we add a few key guys, some of the guys we have this year who have been under-performing will also raise the level of their game."
San Jose has not come close to replicating its breakout season in 2012 when it scored a record 72 goals and won the Supporters Shield for the league's best regular-season record.
Since then, it has struggled, missing the playoffs last season in a tiebreaker with Colorado.
The Quakes have scored a paltry 16 goals in 16 games this season -- six from Wondolowski in his 10 appearances.
Watson has relied on target forwards Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon as the point of the attack. But the "Bash Brothers" have one assist and no goals in 1,452 minutes between them.
The lack of production has led to questions about whether the Earthquakes need to junk their direct style for a more modern game as exhibited by World Cup champion Germany.
"If you look at the league overall, more teams are playing possessing style with stronger midfielders," Kaval said. "Less and less teams have the direct style. We collectively feel we want more creative players."
San Jose has gone down this path before as management attempts to build a solid program, such as those in Seattle, Salt Lake and Kansas City.
The Quakes have advanced to the MLS Cup playoffs only twice in six years --and it's about to become two in seven years unless something changes fundamentally.
"We cannot continue to play from behind, especially when you are not a team that is going to score four or five goals as it is currently constructed," Kaval said.
But the president defended front-office decisions that fans have criticized in social media outbursts.
"I would challenge the notion that we have a terrible track record of bringing in players," Kaval said. "We have brought in a lot of successful players at a very value-oriented investment level that would rival a lot of the other teams in the league.
"We have a lot of the know-it-all and we have some of the creativity. We've been a club that has done a lot with loans that have panned out positively. We've gotten million-dollar players for less than that. The key thing is, across the board, just spending money on players is not a recipe for success, you have to have the right players, the right coach."
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.