Earthquakes

Former MLS All-Star Joe Cannon elected to Earthquakes Hall of Fame

Former MLS All-Star Joe Cannon elected to Earthquakes Hall of Fame

SAN JOSE, Calif. - The San Jose Earthquakes announced today that former goalkeeper Joe Cannon has been elected to the Earthquakes Hall of Fame. The 15-year MLS veteran will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at halftime of the club's match against Seattle Sounders FC on April 8 at Avaya Stadium.

"It has been a dream to play for my hometown team I have supported all my life and I'm truly humbled by this recognition," said Cannon. "An honor like this is the culmination of support from a countless number of people. I would like to say thank you to the Earthquakes, the owners, my teammates, my family, MLS and everyone on and off the field who has helped this club evolve into a first class organization. I want to let my family and friends know how much I appreciate their support over the years, especially my wife Marisa, my parents and brothers.  Finally, I want to thank the fans. The moments and memories we have shared on this journey are lasting impressions that shadow any award or accomplishment. Thank you so much for your support and making this dream my reality."

A two-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, Cannon helped lead the Quakes to their first MLS Cup in 2001. The Sun Valley, Idaho native holds the Quakes record for most games played in goal with 171 appearances and is fourth in all-time games played for the club. Cannon also ranks first in saves (693), tied for first in saves in one season (137) and third in minutes played (15,561). During his time as a Quakes player, Cannon was twice selected to the MLS All-Star team (2001, 2002) and was also named Defensive Player of the Year and Humanitarian of the Year in 2000.

"Joe has been a tremendous ambassador for the Earthquakes organization on and off the field for the past 20 years," said Earthquakes President Dave Kaval. "Whether he was helping the club win an MLS Cup championship or serving as an ambassador in the community, Joe has always had the highest integrity in his work. He is fully deserving of being named to the Earthquakes Hall of Fame."

Cannon began his MLS career in 1999, joining the San Jose Clash after a season with the A-League's San Diego Flash. Although starting the season as the club's back-up goalkeeper, Cannon assumed the starting role following an injury to David Kramer and made 24 appearances for the Clash. The following season, Cannon was named Defensive Player of the Year after recording the fourth-best goals-against average in MLS (1.49) in 26 appearances for San Jose. Cannon also set new club single-season records for saves (137), as well as shutouts (7) and starts by a goalkeeper (26), while also earning MLS Player of the Week honors twice.

During his third season with San Jose, Cannon recorded a club-record goals-against average of 1.09 en route to the club's first-ever MLS Cup. His performance for the Earthquakes made him finalist for the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Award, as well as earning him his first MLS All-Star selection. Cannon continued his form into the 2002 season, earning his first MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Award and his second MLS All-Star selection.

After four seasons with the Earthquakes, Cannon made a move to France in 2003, spending half a season with Ligue 1's Racing Club de Lens before returning to MLS and joining the Colorado Rapids. Following his return to the U.S., Cannon picked up where he left off, earning the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Award for a second time in his career and being named a finalist for the MLS Most Valuable Player Award in 2004. He was also selected to the MLS Best XI and the Rapids' Most Valuable Player and Defender of the Year. Cannon was Colorado's Most Valuable Player for a second straight year in 2005 after registering eight clean sheets in 27 appearances for the club and was also an additional selection for the MLS All-Star Game. He played one final season with the Rapids in 2006, where he was a finalist for the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Award and earned his third MLS All-Star selection.

In 2007, Cannon spent a lone season with David Beckham's Los Angeles Galaxy, registering five clean sheets in 29 appearances for the Southern California outfit.

The following year, Cannon returned to his hometown and the newly revived San Jose Earthquakes for the 2008 season. He led MLS in saves (124) and had nine shutouts in 30 regular season appearances. Cannon was also one of only six players to appear in every minute of regular season action for his club (2,700). His service to the Bay Area community was awarded with a second U.S. Soccer Foundation Humanitarian of the Year Award. Cannon remained with the Quakes through 2010 when he suffered a broken ankle that ended his season.

Cannon was acquired by Vancouver Whitecaps FC during the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft and spent the remainder of his career with the Canadian club, helping Vancouver make its first playoff appearance during the 2012 season before retiring at the end of the 2013 season.

Internationally, Cannon earned two caps for the United States National Team.

Cannon will be the 10th person inducted into the Earthquakes Hall of Fame and first since Ramiro Corrales in 2015.

Earthquakes media services

A heartfelt thank you to former Quakes defender Victor Bernardez

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A heartfelt thank you to former Quakes defender Victor Bernardez

This week, the San Jose Earthquakes announced they would not be bringing back Victor Bernardez next year. 

For most people, this news barely registered on their radar, if at all.  For me, it is the end of the line for one of my favorite players, on my favorite team.

Who was Victor Bernardez?  He was an attacking central defender for the Quakes.  When he played, he constantly made you wonder if he was being overly aggressive, or out of control.  My heart would skip a beat when he would dive in on a tackle, and more often than not, he would come away having made an amazing play.

The first thing that stands out physically about Victor is his strength.  He’s like a bull or an angry rhinoceros -- he played fearlessly and with passion.  I constantly underestimated his offensive abilities.  I can’t count how many times it would look like he was just kicking the ball wildly to clear it, and it was actually a long pass in a perfect place for a counter attack to start.  Through some of the lean years, Victor’s long balls started many of the team's best offensive chances.

He was a relentless player who provided me some of my happiest moments as a fan.  I can clearly remember how despondent I was and how happy I ended up being at the 2012 California Classico at Stanford Stadium.  I had organized a trip for my kid’s soccer club and had over 200 people in our group.  For many, it was their first time to an Earthquakes game.  I wanted them to love the Quakes as much as I did.  Steven Lenhart scored an early goal (and did some pull ups on the goal). Then David Beckham scored, Jason Hernandez scored an own goal, and Landon Donovan put Galaxy up 3-1 in the 41st minute after a misplay by the Quakes defense. 

We were sitting in the end zone, pretty close to the Galaxy supporters group, and I was dreading things would get worse for my boys in the black and blue.  Then, in the 44th minute, Big Vic scored his first MLS goal on a swinging redirect off a Marvin Chavez corner kick, the likes of which I don’t think I’ve seen before or since.  It changed the whole outlook of the match.  Chris Wondolowski capped off the comeback with his unforgettable whirling, back-to-the-goal finish for the game winner.

I won’t forget the free-kick goal Victor scored that same year against Chivas where he took about 14 steps before he shot the ball around a 3-man wall and into the corner of the goal.  Nor will I forget the same approach he took when an opponent try to discourage him from a restart after a foul and stood about 3 yards from the ball.  Instead of asking the referee for 10 yards, he ran up and drilled the guy with the ball.  It deflected out of play for a throw-in and Victor had made his point. I don’t remember an opponent ever taking that same tact with him around.

Victor was listed as six-foot-two, but I was fortunate enough to share an elevator with him once.  I’m 5’10” and all I can think is that they measured him while wearing his longest studs on his cleats.  The truth is, while on the field, he played like he was six-foot-two -- and with the ferocity of lion. 

It was pretty clear this season that the club did not have plans for a 36-year-old center to come back in 2018.  In the middle portion of the season, other players found themselves where Victor had been a constant for years on the back line.  One of the things I am most grateful for is that Victor got a chance to be an impactful player on the run to the playoffs.  His passion for the club, and the game, shone bright.  His aggressive play in the September 30th must-win 2-1 victory over Portland showed the team how it needed to play if it was going to make the playoffs.  In spite of having trouble keeping up with speedster attackers, he was able to shore up a defense that ended the season -21 in goal differential, and get them into the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

There are other ways Victor has impacted my life.  He made me care about the country of Honduras, and how their national team is doing.  I openly cheered for a man nicknamed “Muma”.  I have no idea what it means, but it just sounds cool and makes me feel closer to him, even though our paths have rarely crossed.  He showed me how to be ready for when my number is called after feeling left out for a while.  He exemplified so many of the great things about the game and were a part of my growing love for the sport.  Most importantly, he showed me what can happen if a person puts their heart and soul into their craft, and complements it with humility, humor, and love.

Victor, I wish you well in whatever lies ahead.  Thank you for all the wonderful memories you provided me and my family as we got to watch you ply your trade.

Joe Washington is the senior coordinating producer for NBC Sports Bay Area/California  -- and a lifelong Quakes fan 

Why Quakes' hiring of Stahre is surprising, but not shocking at the same time

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Michael Erichsen/Bildbyran

Why Quakes' hiring of Stahre is surprising, but not shocking at the same time

When the San Jose Earthquakes named Chris Leitch their head coach around the halfway point of last season, the biggest question wasn’t why, it was why not — as in, why not assign him the interim tag most people hired during the middle of a year get?

At the time, general manager Jesse Fioranelli's sans-interim approach was the GM saying that not only was the label not necessary and that Leitch was the in-house solution the Quakes needed to end a playoff drought going on five seasons but also that he was the right person to guide the team into a brighter future. 

And so that vote of confidence, coupled with Leitch guiding the Earthquakes to their first playoff appearance since 2012, plus the lack of an official announcement by the team that a coaching search was underway makes Friday’s hiring of Mikael Stahre a bit eye-popping and provides no clear-cut answer to what happened behind closed doors when the Quakes came back from Vancouver following a brutal exit from the postseason. 

Rumors began swirling midway through the week that Fioranelli had Stahre, the front man over at Sweden’s BK Hacken, in his sights. And there are those people who would argue the writing was on the wall for Leitch given the team’s inconsistent play — especially on the road. But were it not for some ambiguous, less-than-reassuring endorsements of Leitch following the 5-0 playoff loss that left the door open for just about anything, there are others who would say that Friday’s hiring of Stahre was completely out of left field. 

If anything, it appears Fioranelli, who Quakes fans knew very little about when he was hired as the GM back in January, is continuing a precedent that he’ll pull any trigger at any time. 

Whether Fioranelli’s decision to hire the Swedish head coach is the right thing to do is yet to be seen, obviously. Stahre built his name in Sweden, rising from the junior ranks to the front of a first team that last year jumped six spots in the standings. It’s one of many coaching statistics San Jose lists to try and assure fans they’re getting a true soccer mind for the job in Stahre. 

Fioranelli and team President Tom Fox are saying all the right things to welcome Stahre into the fold, mentioning his ability to relate to players — who reportedly gave Stahre glowing endorsements — as a key reason why he was ultimately chosen to lead the Quakes (read between the lines what you will there given the rumored-sour and still-unofficial departures of former Quakes mainstays Simon Dawkins, Cordell Cato and David Bingham once Leitch took over). 

Moreover, Fioranelli reiterated some of the points in the team’s press release during a conference call Friday afternoon. He mentioned that Leitch would stay on as the team’s technical director — the role he had before becoming the head coach and that the club’s decision to relieve him of the head coaching job had nothing to do with where the club was coming from (read: playoffs) but more so where they wanted to go moving forward (read: as of right now, unclear). Fioranelli said the search was extensive and that Stahre was one of three finalists for the job — including one from South America. He again pointed out that Stahre’s values align with those of the club and he’s a man his former players vouch for.

So, at least at first glance, San Jose is doing its best to make pretty and tie a bow around what was at-a-minimum an awkward firing of Dominic Kinnear and hiring of a man in Leitch who did just enough to justify the change but not enough to warrant extending Fioranelli’s experiment any longer. 

Only time will tell exactly what Fioranelli is creating over at Avaya Stadium.