Earthquakes

Quakes' new stadium pivotal for team's future

590450.jpg

Quakes' new stadium pivotal for team's future

SAN JOSE -- Right now, the Airport West lot across Coleman Avenue from San Jose International Airport lays empty, as it has for much of 2011, the only indication of its future, a sign that proclaims it the Future Home of the San Jose Earthquakes. However, the emptiness of the area belies the fact that the team is working day in, day out to make the stadium project happen, with its success crucial to the future of the Earthquakes organization. Long-term, that is almost the most important thing we need, said Earthquakes president Dave Kaval on the stadium. That is going to give us the foundation to really create one of the premier sports properties here in California. While Kaval is certainly no stranger to the on-the-field problems the Earthquakes faced in 2011 and is determined to help improve the teams fortunes in 2012 he highlighted the stadium as one of the most vital pieces of the teams long term future.

In sharing his thoughts on how he saw enthusiasm for soccer growing in the Bay Area, he highlighted the stadium as a potential tipping point for generating widespread interest in the sport in Northern California. I think what Im seeing is very close to a tipping point with soccer, its moving really into the mainstream, I think the medias going to pick up on this I think our stadium is going to be this inflection point which will take us to the next level, Kaval said. With new stadiums opening across MLS Sporting Kansas City inaugurated a state-of-the-art, 200 million stadium in June and the Houston Dynamo have started construction on a stadium of their own the Earthquakes are now one of the only organizations in the league without a soccer-specific stadium to call home. While the facilities at the Buck Shaw Stadium on the campus of the University of Santa Clara exude a distinctly collegiate feel, Kaval argues that there are still features from the teams current home that can be incorporated into the new stadiums design.I think the biggest thing people will notice when theyre at our new venue is how close you are to the pitch, and the funny thing is where we sort of learned that from was Buck Shaw, Kaval explained. He continued, Buck Shaw, for all its failings and complications, you are so close to the action. I remember even having people come over from England or Brazil and theyre like, I dont think Ive ever been so close. Another notable design feature of the new stadium which has an estimated cost of 60 million, funded by the team ownership was the decision to leave one end of the stadium open, much like Buck Shaw Stadium. While it could potentially diminish the noise level in the stadium, Kaval explained that the decision to leave one end of the stadium open was part of the teams long-term vision for the facility. The environmental impact report on the stadium allowed it to be built to house up to 18,000 fans, but as Kaval pointed out, We wanted to allow us to build within that zoning permit while at the same time maybe at a future date be able to expand the stadium and enclose it. He also cited the similar size of the stadiums in Kansas City and Portland, two cities in smaller markets that put up impressive attendance numbers in the 2011 season. In Portland, the Timbers even had to expand capacity for the end of the season after consistently selling out the newly refurbished, 18,627 capacity JELD-WEN Field. In addition to the size of the stadium, Kaval also believes there is plenty to learn from the already-established soccer-specific facilities across the country, explaining, Weve integrated ideas from Kansas City, from Philadelphia, Home Depot Center, from everywhere, in terms of what we think are the positive attributes of our stadium. Kaval also believes that the new stadium could help attract the U.S. national team back to the Bay Area, where despite significant interest in international soccer, both the mens and womens national teams are going on five years without an appearance in the Bay Area. I think our new venue will be a good location where we can have more games for the national team, he said. Hopefully we can really leverage that and have them here more. While the U.S. national team may have to wait at least another year or two Kaval hopes for construction to start next year, putting a likely opening date in the 2013 season he also hopes to have some tangible progress to announce before the new year. The organization has been engaged with the City of San Jose throughout the year in the permitting process with a variety of studies on the impact of the stadium and the president is hoping to announce a date for a permit hearing (officially called a Directors Meeting) shortly. Thats a really critical step, because then that really allows us to look at the situation and understand really exactly what is being allowed to be built and how it can be used, Kaval explained. That then can really finalize the design and really solidify the financing so we can move forward with the groundbreaking.For more Earthquakes, MLS and world soccer chatter, you can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter: @nicholasrosano

Quakes crushed in Vancouver, eliminated from MLS Cup Playoffs

earthquakes-usatsi.jpg

Quakes crushed in Vancouver, eliminated from MLS Cup Playoffs

BOX SCORE

The San Jose Earthquakes' season is over, after the Vancouver Whitecaps beat San Jose 5-0 in the knockout round of the MLS Cup Playoffs on Tuesday night. 

Fredy Montero opened the scoring for the Whitecaps in the 33rd minute. In the second half, Cristian Tecera and Kendall Watson scored seven minutes apart and all but sealed the hosts' first-ever playoff win. Second half substitute Nicolas Mezquida scored a brace for good measure, with two goals in 78th and 80th minute. 

Earthquakes captain Chris Wondolowski was held off of the scoresheet for his fourth consecutive playoff game. The 34-year-old scored one goal in six career postseason appearances. 

Tuesday marked San Jose's first postseason appearance since 2012. The Earthquakes have not advanced past the quarterfinals of the MLS Cup Playoffs since 2010.

Earthquakes come into MLS Playoffs as clear underdogs in Vancouver

Earthquakes come into MLS Playoffs as clear underdogs in Vancouver

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Carl Robinson was talking about the need to rely on key veterans in a playoff game.

And then the Vancouver coach all but confirmed that he will replace two long-time standouts on Wednesday in the Whitecaps' Major League Soccer knockout-round playoff game against the San Jose Earthquakes.

One -- left fullback Jordan Harvey, the longest-serving Whitecap -- definitely will not start. Instead, Marcel de Jong, who has been deployed mainly as a utility player on the back line and in midfield, will get the call.

"Marcel has played very well for the last three games he's played, and so has Jordan, but for this matchup, Marcel will play," Robinson said after a practice Tuesday at the club's University of British Columbia training facility.

Harvey, a 33-year-old Mission Viejo, Calif., native, has rarely taken a night off since joining the Whitecaps in a trade from Philadelphia in Vancouver's inaugural MLS season in 2011.

De Jong, a 31-year-old Newmarket, Ontario, native who plays internationally for Canada, got into only 13 games during the regular season and just seven in 2016 after joining the club in midseason from Ottawa of the second-tier North American Soccer League.

Meanwhile, Stefan Marinovic, a 24-year-old New Zealand international, is expected to start in goal as David Ousted, a 31-year-old Dane who has been the team's heavily used starter since his arrival in mid-2013, watches for the fourth time in the past five games.

Marinovic has a modest 2-2-1 record with one shutout.

"It's no gamble at all," Robinson said of changing goalies. "Stef's a top-class goalkeeper. We know that.

"I'm a very lucky manager in this league in that I've got two very good goalkeepers. Stef's come in and, in the games he's played, he's been exceptional. I need him to make saves at big times. (Ousted) has done that throughout the first two-thirds of the season. Stef has now taken charge."

The Wednesday contest marks the time for the Whitecaps to take charge of their postseason fortunes after they squandered a chance to finish first in the Western Conference and dropped to third thanks to a draw with the Earthquakes two weeks ago and a loss to the Portland Timbers last weekend.

Vancouver (15-12-7) has never won a playoff game in its MLS existence.

The winner of Wednesday's contest will play a two-game, total-goals series against either first-place Portland or the second-place Seattle Sounders.

The Earthquakes, who grabbed the sixth and final playoff berth in the West with a 13-14-7 mark, are clear underdogs. However, Vancouver captain Kendall Waston downplayed the apparent pressure on his team, which was a modest 1-3-1 in its last five regular-season games.

"Pressure, for me, is (not having) money to go buy milk for my son," Waston said. "This is trying to be (as) responsible as we can. We have to look at this match as the others, but the thing is, if we lose, we have to go home -- and we (don't) want to go home."

Vancouver's top scorer, Fredy Montero, said he is ready to play a full game after being used as a substitute in Portland due to a minor injury.

Meanwhile, the Earthquakes will try to continue to rebound from a 6-6-5 start that cost former coach Dominic Kinnear his job. Replacement Chris Leitch saw the team endure some fits and starts, but the Earthquakes managed to get into the playoffs after Marco Urena, a teammate of Waston on Costa Rica's national team, scored the last-minute winner over Minnesota United last weekend.

"I always shine in these important moments," Urena said afterward. "God chose me (for such times.)"

The Earthquakes might need some divine intervention after allowing 21 more goals than they scored during the regular season. Even so, they have one of the all-time best MLS players in Chris Wondolowski, who assisted on the winner and also scored last weekend, earning MLS player of the week honors.

"Legitimately one of the hardest things I had to do in my life," Wondolowski, who loves to shoot, said about passing on the winning goal.

Wondolowski, who is tied for second on the MLS all-time scoring list with Jeff Cunningham at 134 goals, said it has been a "look-in-the mirror-and-see-what-you're-made-of season," for the Quakes, who made several midseason roster changes.