SAN JOSE -- In the first major move resulting from additional funds from a new stadium, the Earthquakes on Thursday announced the signing of Argentine attacking midfielder Matias Perez Garcia.
Perez Garcia, 29, is a quality playmaker the Quakes have lacked this season while posting a 5-8-5 record in Major League Soccer heading into a showdown Saturday against first place Seattle Sounders FC in the debut of Levi's Stadium.
The 5-foot-5 Perez Garcia comes from CA Tigre of Argentina's Primera Division. San Jose officials had to outbid elite Buenos Aires clubs River Plate and Racing FC to acquire the third designated player in team history. Terms of the deal were not announced but reports in Argentina said it would cost $2 million in a transfer fee.
The designated player tag means part of the big salary will not count against the league-mandated salary cap.
It is the Quakes' biggest transaction since re-entering MLS in 2008 because they bought the player outright.
"We're buying a player who is going to be here for a period of years," president Dave Kaval said. "You're investing millions of dollars, which is something the club has not done in the past."
The Argentine native had 16 goals and 10 assists in 77 appearances with Tigre after joining the club in 2012. He helped lead Los Matadores to the round of 16 in the 2012-13 Copa Libertadores, scoring four goals in nine tournament appearances.
In the opening tournament of the 2013-14 Argentine season, the midfielder had four goals and five assists in 13 games. He scored three goals in the closing tournament that ended in May.
"You're getting talent that allows you to play a different style," Kaval said. "We've been very constrained with the style because of resources. It establishes a new era for us as a club."
General manager John Doyle called it a monumental moment for the Quakes.
"Matias is a dynamic, attacking player that will create chances for teammates as well as himself," he said in a statement. "I'm very excited to see the impact that he can have on this league for years to come."
Perez Garcia has played in Chile, France and Uruguay, but has spent most of his career in Argentina's Primera Division.
He is San Jose's third designated player, joining Geovanni (2010) and current star Chris Wondolowski.
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.