The San Jose Earthquakes announced Saturday that the club has signed forward Innocent Emeghara as the club's third Designated Player pending receipt of his P-1 Visa and international transfer certificate. Per league and team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Emeghara, 25, is a speedy goal scorer who has spent his career in Switzerland, France, Italy and Azerbaijan. He has earned nine caps for Switzerland during his career.
"We are excited to sign a player of his quality," said Earthquakes general manager John Doyle. "He is a player in the prime of his career who has played at the highest levels and we are happy to bring him here on a long-term deal. I would like to thank ownership and Dave Kaval for their commitment to signing a third Designated Player."
Most recently, he played for Qarabag Agbam in the Azerbaijan Premier League, where he scored five goals in eight appearances. Prior to Qarabag, the Lagos, Nigeria native notched seven goals and two assists in 17 appearances with Siena of Serie A. He also had four goals and seven assists in 30 appearances while on loan with Livorno in Serie A during the 2013-14 season. Before his Serie A experience, Emeghara played for FC Lorient in Ligue 1, making 28 appearances and netting five goals from 2011-2013.
"It is always good to sign a forward who has the potential to run away from the defense, but who is also clever enough to join in the play," said Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear. "He is good signing for the league and our team. He will be a threat to score every time he steps on the field. I would like to thank ownership, John Doyle and my staff for being very thorough as we looked for a new addition to the team."
Emeghara started his professional career in Switzerland with FC Zurich II in 2006, scoring 16 goals in 48 appearances with the team. His strong play earned him a transfer to Swiss club FC Winterthur. During the 2009-10 season, Emeghara led Winterthur with 21 goals in 31 appearances, five of which came in the club's run to the Round of 16 in the 2009-10 Swiss Cup. He would kick off the 2009-10 Swiss Challenge League with four goals in the first five games of the season, leading his club to an undefeated mark eight games into the campaign.
Emeghara then moved onto the Swiss Super League with Grasshoppers Club Zurich, totaling 15 goals and 12 assists in 46 appearances with the club.
Internationally, Emeghara also represented Switzerland at the U-21 and senior levels, notching five goals and two assists in 17 total appearances between the two levels.
Emeghara is the fourth Designated Player in club history. The first was Brazilian playmaker Geovanni, who signed on Aug. 16, 2010 as the Earthquakes marched toward their first postseason appearance since rejoining the league in 2008. Next came Bay Area native and United States men's national team forward Chris Wondolowski after signing a new contract on Feb. 26, 2013, followed by Argentinean midfielder Matias Perez Garcia who signed with the club last summer.