Jamiro Monteiro is still sour about being traded by the Union
"For me it was not necessary to leave," Monteiro said in his first interview since the trade. But the Earthquakes were willing to give him a new contract that the Union weren't.
As Jamiro Monteiro got settled in with the San Jose Earthquakes, he quickly noticed a few things.
One was the Bay Area’s warmer weather, proven by his wife and children shedding their winter coats upon arriving at San Jose’s airport earlier this week.
Another was a collection of personal outreaches Monteiro got from the Earthquakes’ front office that he didn’t feel he was getting from the Union anymore.
If you thought the trade unfolded quickly from an outside perspective, it did so for Monteiro too. But he revealed that after getting his visa issue resolved, he spent a week in Philadelphia instead of going to the Union’s training camp in Clearwater, Fla., while he waited for the deal to be completed.
“For me, it was a little surprise,” he said Thursday in his first news conference since the trade. “For me it was not necessary to leave. But Philly had another plan, to play the young guys, and San Jose did also something, what Philly did not do for me — and that’s why for me, this choice was also a better choice.”
That “something” includes a new contract. A source with knowledge of the situation told The Inquirer that San Jose guaranteed 2023, which had been an option year, and added a team option for 2024. Monteiro made just under $1.5 million last year as a Designated Player, would have gotten a raise this year, and would have been in line for an even bigger raise with a new deal.
Although San Jose has not yet officially announced the new contract, it is coming.
But Monteiro hinted that there might have been more to it than just money — in particular, that there was a communication breakdown between him and the Union’s front office.
“It’s not only that that’s important,” Monteiro said. “It’s also important how you see your player, how you meet your player, if you have a plan for your player. And for me, Philly didn’t give that. They had some other plans.”
As Monteiro, 28, had already said, those other plans centered around giving more playing time to a quartet of young midfield prospects: Paxten Aaronson, Leon Flach, Jack McGlynn, and Quinn Sullivan.
“I had a call from the coach [in San Jose, Matías Almeyda], I had a call from the director [general manager Chris Leitch], and the motivation they gave me, I didn’t feel that any from Philly,” Monteiro said. “So for me, this was the best option in my eye. And now this year, we will let it happen, and maybe we’ll see.”
Monteiro will take the field in San Jose after earning international praise for his play with Cape Verde at the Africa Cup of Nations. It was his first time in the tournament, and he started in all four of the Blue Sharks’ games as they finished third in their group and advanced to the round of 16. They were beaten there by eventual champion Senegal.
If it was a highlight to play against Senegal stars such as Liverpool’s Sadio Mané, it was also special to play against Cameroon. He was in the building with Union teammate Olivier Mbaizo, who came on as a late substitute for Cameroon a few minutes after Monteiro was subbed off. It was the first time that two Union players played in the same game at a major national team tournament, even if fate meant they didn’t play at the same time.
“Mbaizo is like a brother for me, a brother from another mother,” Monteiro said. “I hoped he would play in that game more minutes, but the most important thing [was] I saw him. It was great to see him. We hugged each other.”
For whatever sour feelings Monteiro has toward the Union’s front office, he has none toward Union fans. And he’s looking forward to coming back to Subaru Park on March 12 when the Earthquakes play here.
“I love the fans of Philly,” he said. “Everybody knows how much I appreciate Philly. For me, it’s a club that I will never forget. It will be weird to be in Philly in another jersey — but to be honest, I will give everything to win that game.”
Union fans would expect nothing less.