Garza's brace leads Earthquakes to U.S. Open Cup win


Garza's brace leads Earthquakes to U.S. Open Cup win

U.S. Open Cup success had not come for the San JoseEarthquakes in almost a decade, but on Tuesday evening at Cagan Stadium on thecampus of Stanford University the Quakesdispatched of NASL side Fort Lauderdale Strikers to advance to the fourth roundof the tournament. A pair of goals from rookie Sam Garza was enough to countera wonder strike from Strikers forward Mark Anderson and send the intrepid 1,271fans in attendance home happy.As is often the case when two teams meet for the first timein nearly three decades, the Earthquakes and the Strikers played tentativelyfor the matchs first ten minutes. Fort Lauderdalerarely ventured past the centerline, and San Jose seemed content to control possession across thedefensive back four. It wasnt until the 15th minute that eitherteam even had a shot attempt, when the Quakes' Ike Opara headed a free kick fromthe foot of Tressor Moreno wide of the goal. However, the venture into the attacking third began to occurat an accelerated rate over the ensuing minutes. In the 17th minute,following a deflected pass from Sam Garza intended for Sercan Guvenisik, StevenLenhart found himself alone at the top of the area with only Strikersgoalkeeper Matt Glaeser to beat. His hard shot to the keepers left was kickedaway from danger. A minute later, Lenharts strike partner Guvenisik nearlyput the Earthquakes on top, but his headed ball from Josh Suggs bounced up inthe six-yard box and was deflected over the crossbar for a corner kick. The Earthquakes were almost caught out on a Strikerscounterattack in the 21st minute when, on a through ball to the topof the area, defender Justin Morrow slipped and allowed Walter Restrepo a pathon goal. However, goalkeeper David Bingham rushed forward to neutralize theball and clear it to safety. The match settled down and both teams traded fruitless tripsinto the attacking third over the next quarter hour. Perhaps the lack of actionlulled Bingham into a sense of calm because in an unfortunate moment of poorpositioning, he was made to pay by the opportunistic Strikers. Following a well timed tackle from the Strikers, the ballrolled into the path of forward Mark Anderson just inside his own half of thefield. Taking a small touch to settle himself after looking to be surprised atreceiving the ball, Andersonspied Bingham well off his goal line, and uncorked a shot from the Strikersside of the centerline. Bingham could only back peddle and thrust his armsskyward in an attempt to save the shot, but his efforts were for naught and theball settled into the net on the fly. The Earthquakes looked shocked by the Strikers goal andimmediately switched to a higher gear on offense. The team tried to breakthrough over the final five minutes of the half, but instead retreated to thelocker room at halftime trailing 1-0. The second half began with the Earthquakes clearly burned bythe actions of the first half, and they poured forward in numbers looking forthe tying goal. In the 47th minute, it looked like the goal had beenfound, when a slick pass from Morenowas received by Garza on the right wing and crossed across the front of goal.Guvenisik met the ball at the far post and sent the ball on target, but theStriker goalkeeper just managed to keep the ball from crossing the goal line. The sustained pressure by San Jose appeared to have paid dividends inthe 61st minute, as Garza found a deflected ball at his feet just inside theright corner of the area. However, his shot was well off target and soared highinto the evening air. In the 63rd minute, the Earthquakes finallyequalized, as Garza made amends for his earlier miss with a well placed balllow inside the post. The goal was justly deserved, and the Earthquakes continuedto press the Strikers on the restart. In the 70th minute, followinga giveaway from the Fort Lauderdale defense in adangerous area, San Josetook the lead. Not looking to do anything fancy, Lenhart redirected theloose ball back into the path of Garza. The Earthquakes rookie one-timed a shotinto the back of the net to put the home side up 2-1. Trailing by a goal and with time running out on theirtournament life, the Strikers looked for every opportunity to get into theattacking third. In the 72nd minute and again in the 74thminute, goal scorer Anderson had the chance to level the score, but twice hewas denied by excellent saves from goalkeeper Bingham. The danger past, the Earthquakes again restored theirdominance in possession and poured forward looking to salt the match away.Second half substitutes Simon Dawkins and Steven Beitashour brought afirst-team feeling to the proceedings, and the final 15 minutes of the matchwas played almost exclusively in the Strikers' end. Just once was Bingham tested in that time, when in the 85thminute he was called to parry away a fierce strike from defender Scott Lorenzplaying in an advanced position on a restart, but that was all the Florida sidewas able to muster. As the fans rose to their feet during the three minutes ofstoppage time, the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of the match andthe Earthquakes celebrated their 2-1 victory.

Quakes announce hiring of new head coach: 'We are an ambitious club'


Quakes announce hiring of new head coach: 'We are an ambitious club'

SAN JOSE - The San Jose Earthquakes announced Friday that the club has hired Mikael Stahre (Michael STAR-eh) as head coach. Stahre brings 11 years of head coaching experience in top European leagues to San Jose. Chris Leitch and Alex Covelo, who spent the final four months of the 2017 season as head coach and assistant coach, respectively, will return to their roles as technical director and director of methodology.

"After a thorough evaluation process, we are excited that Mikael will be joining our club," said Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli. "What stood out with Mikael are not only the cups his teams won and his consistency over the past 10+ seasons, but also his ability to identify with our players, our coaching staff and most importantly our goals."

"I would like to take this occasion to thank Chris [Leitch] for his dedication to the club," continued Fioranelli. "We would not be where we are today without the contributions of Chris and Alex [Covelo] on the coaching staff. I look forward to working with him as he resumes his role as technical director. We are a special club with special people."

Stahre, 42, comes to San Jose after one year as the head coach of BK Hacken in the Swedish top-flight Allsvenskan. During his lone season with the club, Stahre led the team to a 14-6-10 record, a +14 goal-differential, the third-fewest goals allowed in the league (28) and a fourth-place finish. Stahre elevated Hacken from 10th place in 2016 with an 11-12-7 record to a top-four finish for the first time since 2012.

"We are very excited to bring Mikael in to lead us forward and build on the momentum of this past season," said Earthquakes President Tom Fox. "We are an ambitious club and believe his extensive experience and track record will bring a strong presence to our locker room and will put us firmly on the path to success."

Stahre, from Stockholm, Sweden, began his coaching career in 2007 with FC Vasby United of the Swedish third-tier. Under his guidance, FC Vasby finished in second place with a 15-5-6 record and the third-best offense in the league, earning promotion to the second-tier Superettan. He remained with the club for one more year, finishing mid-table despite possessing the youngest team in the league, before moving to AIK in 2009.

"I am very proud to be the new head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes and for the opportunity to work with Jesse Fioranelli and the other members of the organization," said Stahre. "I'm going to give everything I have to the Quakes and I am very excited about being a part of the future of the club."

Inheriting a team that had finished in fifth place the year before, Stahre led AIK to a league championship in his first season. The club went 18-5-7 with a league-low 20 goals allowed in 30 games, marking their first Swedish title since 1998. That same year, AIK won the Swedish Cup, comparable to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, with a perfect 5-0 record in single-elimination play.

After winning the double, Stahre had a stint with Panionios in Greece before moving back to Sweden to take charge of IFK Goteborg ahead of the 2012 Allsvenskan season. Stahre again quickly led his side to silverware, with IFK winning the 2012-13 Swedish Cup. In 2013, IFK rose from a mid-table club to third place (16-8-6), ranking among the league-leaders in goals for (49, t-4th) and goals against (31, 3rd). IFK made another jump the following year, finishing second with a 15-4-11 record and a +24 goal-differential. He also gave increased opportunity to youth players such as 18-year-old forward Gustav Engvall and 20-year-old fullback Ludwig Augustinsson. The duo finished No. 1 and No. 2 in Newcomer of the Year voting and have both gone on to represent the Swedish National Team, who are bound for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

After his three successful seasons with IFK, Stahre's next challenge was to take over Dalian Aerbin (Yifang), who had just been relegated from the Chinese Super League to League One. In his first season in China in 2015, Stahre led Dalian Aerbin to a third-place finish with a 17-6-7 record and the league's second-best goal-differential (+24), narrowly missing out on promotion. He remained with the team for half of the 2016 season, exiting after a 10-6-2 start to the campaign, and returning to Sweden to take over Hacken in January of 2017.

In addition to his many years of coaching First Team football, Stahre also has experience at the youth level. He served as head coach of the Hammarby U-19s from 1994-97 and the AIK U-19s from 1998-2005, leading AIK to the junior national championship in 2004.

The assistants on Stahre's coaching staff will be announced at a later date.

San Jose Earthquakes media services

NASL-champion San Francisco Deltas fold after one season


NASL-champion San Francisco Deltas fold after one season

The dream is no more. 

San Francisco Deltas' CEO Brian Andres Helmick ended speculation on Friday when he released a statement announcing the end of the team after one season in the North American Soccer League -- a DII professional league in the USSF pyramid. 

The Deltas are fresh off claming the NASL's championship in front of a sold-out crowd at Kezar Stadium, But even that wasn't enough to save a franchise who admittedly was struggling to stay afloat. 

"We are closing down the San Francisco Deltas," Helmick wrote. "As many of you have said, this journey that started in 2015 has the makings of a movie with character-defining struggles, heroic moments, painful defeats, and overcoming seemingly impossible hurdles all culminating in a dream come true on Sunday, November 12th when the SF Deltas were crowned the national champions after defeating the New York Cosmos — arguably the most storied brand in U.S. Soccer history. I’ll never forget the scene of thousands of fans storming the field. Now that the celebration has come to an end, players and coaches have been released from their contracts. We will not leave any loose ends and everybody will be paid what they’re owed for 2017 — including players, coaches, staff, partners and vendors."

In 32 league games, the Deltas amassed a 14-12-6 record and advanced to the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup tournament where they lost to the San Jose Earthquakes. 

"In hindsight we have not been perfect," Helmick said. "Far from it. We have learned so much from this adventure and we will begin organizing our thoughts and learnings that led to us to make this decision. Our hope is to share them for the benefit of others who are interested in developing the sport here in San Francisco or in other cities. I firmly believe that via transparency and collaboration we can improve the sport we all love."

In response to the Deltas news, the NASL released the following statement: 'In San Francisco, it’s unfortunate that the Deltas’ business plans did not materialize in the way they had hoped. We remain a big believer in the market, as evidenced by the atmosphere and crowd at The Championship Final earlier this month, and we still believe that the city deserves a professional soccer team. We are in active discussions with potential ownership groups and we aim to keep professional soccer in San Francisco in the future."

The Deltas experiment is the latest to test the viability of professional soccer in San Francisco. Last Fall, another group fronted by founder NIck Swimurn -- San Francisco Football Club -- attempted to start a team using AT&T Park as its home stadium as part of the United Soccer League. The project and application was pulled.