San Jose Earthquakes
The San Jose Earthquakes, also known as the Quakes, are a Major League Soccer team based in San Jose, California. One of the founding ten teams of the league, the club competed in the MLS from 1996 to 2005, before it was moved to Houston, Texas, and rebranded Houston Dynamo.
Although most of the players and the coaching staff moved to Houston, the Earthquakes’ history was not transferred to the new team. In the 2007 off-season, it was announced that the Earthquakes would be returning to the Bay Area and rejoining the MLS as an expansion team for the beginning of the 2008 season.
As well as winning the first ever MLS game 1-0 against DC United – Eric Wynalda scoring the league’s opening goal – the Earthquakes have also achieved several major honours. They lifted the MLS Cup in 2001 and 2003, as well as the MLS Supporters Shield in 2005. The Earthquakes are currently playing their home games at Buck Shaw Stadium while they await the construction of a new soccer-specific stadium.
Dark Days in the Bay
The Earthquakes franchise was set up in 1974, when San Jose joined the North America Soccer League (NASL) as an expansion team. After the NASL ceased to be in 1984, the Earthquakes joined the Western Soccer League, and played for three seasons before being mismanaged into bankruptcy. The following year, a new franchise was established, called the San Fransisco Bay Blackhawks. The team played in several different leagues over the following years, but eventually joined the United States Interregional Soccer League in 1993, under the new name San Jose Hawks. By the end of the season, the team had folded.
A Shaky Start in the MLS
In 1994, Dan Van Voorhis, owner of the Blackhawks, successfully bid for one of MLS’ inaugural franchise teams, known as the San Jose Clash. Former Earthquakes player and Blackhawks coach Laurie Calloway was brought in to lead the team and several high profile players were purchased, including Eric Wynalda, who had previously played for the Blackhawks. In the opening season of the MLS, the Clash reached the postseason playoffs and John Doyle was named as MLS defender of the year.
But all was not well and severe rifts between several players ushered in a period of strife. Despite the introduction of Brian Quinn as head coach, the Clash finished 1997 with the worst record in the Western Conference, and were well off reaching the playoffs the following year. By the end of 1999, Quinn had been replaced by Lothar Osiander and the team’s name was changed to San Jose Earthquakes.
However, they would not reach the postseason until the 2001 season, under the leadership of head coach Frank Yallop. That year, star striker Landon Donovan was loaned from Bayer Leverkusen and the Earthquakes went on to lift the MLS Cup, after a 2-1 overtime victory against local rivals Los Angeles Galaxy. The next few years marked the high point of San Jose’s footballing history – the club finishing runners up for the MLS Supporters’ Shield in 2002 and 2003, before going on to win the 2003 MLS Cup.
Hiatus and Re-birth
The Quakes remained successful in the MLS until 2005, when they won the MLS Supporters’ Shield for finishing the regular season with the best record. Losing just four times that year, the Quakes’ finished the 2005 regular season with 18 wins and 10 overtime shootout wins. This remains the best ever record in the MLS.
But despite, or perhaps because of, the Earthquakes’ great success on the pitch, it was announced in December 2005 that the team would move to Houston for the 2006 season because owner Anschutz Entertainment Group had not been able to secure permission to build a soccer-specific stadium in San Jose. For the last ten years, the Quakes had been playing at Spartan Stadium, which they had shared with several other tenants. Although Houston Dynamo was created, the MLS decreed that the Earthquakes name, logo, history and records would not be transferred.
After a year on hiatus, hope was rekindled for the Earthquakes when Lewis Wolff and John Fisher – owners of the Oakland Athletics Major League Baseball team – reached a deal with MLS to develop a soccer specific stadium and start a new expansion franchise in the San Francisco Bay Area. The deal marked the rebirth of the San Jose Earthquakes, and the team rejoined MLS for the 2008 season under the ownership of Wolff.
According to local newspaper The Mercury, San Jose announced a crowd of 20,038 for their 2008 opening home tie, a massive rise from the 8,730 turnout for the opening home game of the 2005 season.
Upon returning to San Jose for the 2008 season, the Earthquakes reached a deal with Santa Clara University to use their 11,500 seat stadium until they are able to construct a more permanent home. For big games, the Quakes are currently using the McAfee Coliseum, home to Major League Baseball team Oakland Athletics and the NFL’s Oakland Raiders.
In April 2008, the Associated Press and several local news sources reported that Earthquakes owner Lewis Wolff had agreed a $132 million (£67 million) deal with city officials to build a new soccer-specific stadium near San Jose airport for the team.
The deal has yet to be approved by the city council, but if it goes through, the New Earthquakes Stadium (working name) could open as soon as 2010. As well as a plan for an 18,000 all-seater stadium, Wolff is also hoping to build an accompanying office complex, shops and a hotel on the 66 acre site.
Records & Honours
The San Jose Earthquakes are one of just six teams to have won the MLS Cup in the last 12 seasons. They have won the trophy on two occasions, in the 2001 season after beating rivals LA Galaxy 2-1, and in 2003, when they dispatched Chicago Fire 4-2. Only DC United has won the MLS Cup on more occasions.
In 2005, they were awarded the MLS Supporters’ Shield for finishing with the best regular season record, having lost just four games, an all-time record for the league. The Quakes also came runners up for the award in 2002 and 2003.
The Earthquakes also won the Carolina Challenge Cup, a four-team round robin pre-season invitational tournament in 2005. The trophy was won by Houston Dynamo in the following two years, after San Jose’s temporary dissolution and the migration of the entire team and coach to Houston. In 2008, following the reformation of the Earthquakes the previous year, San Jose once again lifted the Cup as victors.
San Jose have won the California Clasico – a local competition with LA Galaxy – on three occasions, in 1997, 2001 and 2005. From 2006-07, the cup was put on hiatus following San Jose’s move to Houston. It was brought back for the 2008 season, as the Earthquakes look to resume their rivalry with the Galaxy.
2008 Team Squad & Notable Players
In 2007, Frank Yallop returned to the Quakes, following stints as the Canadian national team manager and LA Galaxy head coach, having previously led San Jose to its two MLS Cup Victories. The former Ipswich Town player is the current head coach. For the 2008 MLS campaign the Earthquakes squad lined up as follows:
|9||FW||Gavin Glinton||Turks and Caicos Islands|
|16||FW||Kei Kamara||Sierra Leone|
|21||DF||Jason Hernandez||Puerto Rico|
Of the players listed above, Cannon, Garcia, Clinton, Corrales, Johnson and Guerrero have all been capped for their respective countries.
- The official Earthquakes website is an excellent source for information on the club’s fixtures, previous matches and team roster and official team merchandise. The site also maintains up-to-date stats on the Quakes, and provides audio and video highlights of their games.
- The Offside is an MLS blog that has a page dedicated to each team. Here, you can find important news relating to San Jose and the league. It is written by fans for the fans. Registered users can also discuss stories in the comments section and download podcasts.
- The Big Soccer Forums is a great repository of information on all things Earthquakes. Anyone can browse through the extensive forums dedicated to MLS teams and other football teams from around the world, and can participate in the banter following a simple, free registration.