Earthquakes

Quakes Give GM Doyle Contract Extension

Quakes Give GM Doyle Contract Extension

Aug. 25, 2010EARTHQUAKES PAGE

SAN JOSE The SanJose Earthquakes announced today that they have signed General Manager ofSoccer Operations John Doyle to a contract extension for the 2011 season. Theextension includes an option for 2012. Doyle was originally named generalmanager on Oct. 3, 2007.From an expansion team in2008, John Doyle has done an excellent job building the club from the groundup, said Earthquakes President Michael Crowley. He has built astrong team for this season that is in the heart of the playoff race right nowand there is also a very strong foundation for the future. John also deserves alot of credit for getting our youth academy started this season.Doyleoversaw the return of San Jose to the field in his role as general manager since 2007. He wasinstrumental in the hiring of Frank Yallop as head coach in 2007 and thebuilding of the team staff. Doyle and that staff oversaw a very successfulreturn to San Jose as the Earthquakes posted more wins (8) and points (33) than anyother expansion team in the past decade. After a slow start to 2008, herevamped the roster with the signings of English star Darren Huckerby,Brazilian Francisco Lima and trades for Scott Sealy and Arturo Alvarez. The team made arun for the playoffs that ended in the second-to-last game of the year.Iam thrilled to continue my role here with the Earthquakes, said Doyle.I would like to thank the ownership group for their commitment to thisteam, especially for the construction of the first-class Nutrilite TrainingFacility this year and thesupport tocreate our own youth academy.We have worked hard for the past three years and I believe that we have built asolid foundation to be a successful team year in and year out in MLS.Followingan injury-plagued start to the 2009 season for the Earthquakes, Doyleoverhauled the team again during the summer transfer window as the Quakes put togethera solid finish to the season. The core of that team, including 2010 MLSAll-Star Bobby Convey, has been the key to San Joses resurgence as a playoff contender in 2010. Prior to thisseason, Doyle oversaw one of the most successful drafts in team history, as headded three players, including 2010 Rookie of the Year candidate Ike Opara. Healso added key performers Joey Gjertsen and Jon Busch to the roster. The Quakesequaled their best start in team history (5-2-1) this year and the much-improveddefense currently ranks fourth in the league in goals allowed.Recently,he made one of the biggest transactions in club history, signing Brazilian starGeovanni on Aug. 20. Geovanni, who is the teams first designated playerin team history, has played for FC Barcelona, Benfica, Manchester City and Hull City in his career. He made his debut on Aug. 21 in the teams1-0 win over the LA Galaxy.UnderDoyles guidance, the team also launched the Earthquakes Youth Academy in 2010 with US Soccer Academy teams at the U18 and U16 levels.The academy made its debut at the 2010 SUM Cup at the MLS All-Star Game in Houston.Doyle,a native of Fremont, has been involved with the Earthquakes organization every yearsince 1996. He played and served as captain from 1996-2000. From 2001-03, heserved as an analyst on the teams television broadcasts before moving tothe sidelines as an assistant coach for the 2004 and 2005 seasons.--Courtesy San Jose Earthquakes media services

A heartfelt thank you to former Quakes defender Victor Bernardez

bernardez-1-usatsi.jpg

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

stahre2.jpg
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.