Return of the Quakes

Here's my official piece for American Soccer Daily on the return of the San Jose Earthquakes. Be sure to check out ASD - a lot of good things goin' on over there.


Major League Soccer welcomed an old friend back into the league today. Commissioner Don Garber confirmed the imminent return of the San Jose Earthquakes for the 2008 season as part of his annual State of the League address.

One of the league’s original ten teams, the franchise began play in 1996 as the San Jose Clash before being renamed the Earthquakes three years later. The club struggled over their first five years in existence, finishing no better than fourth in the Western Conference and qualifying for the playoffs just once over that span.

In 2001, Frank Yallop was hired as the team’s new head coach with hopes of changing club fortunes. Prospects got even brighter when the Earthquakes acquired star forward Landon Donovan via allocation from Bayer Leverkusen as he would go on to lead the club to two MLS Cup championships (2001, 2003).

Dominic Kinnear would be hired in 2004 to replace Yallop, who departed in the off-season to take a job with the Canadian national team. While Kinnear couldn’t quite replicate Yallop’s success in the playoffs, he did guide San Jose to their only Supporters’ Shield, given to the team with the league’s best regular-season record, in 2005.

The Earthquakes were eliminated from the 2005 playoffs at the hands of the Los Angeles Galaxy, and soon after, Anschutz Entertainment Group announced that the franchise would be relocated to Houston, to the surprise of many long-time supporters. Financial issues stemming from playing home games at San Jose State University’s Spartan Stadium were the ultimate reason given for the team’s move.

“From the league perspective, it was traumatic to leave,” said Garber. “We had hoped to get back as soon as possible and know that our fans have been wanting for their team to return. We were anxious to do it as quickly as we could.”

Follwing a two-year hiatus, the San Jose Earthquakes will make their triumphant return for the 2008 MLS season, becoming the Western Conference’s seventh team and the 14th team in the league overall.

New owner Lewis Wolff, who also owns the Oakland A’s, is already in talks with the City of San Jose to develop a new 20,000-seat stadium on a site near San Jose International Airport, close to public transit and two major highways. While the new stadium is expected to be ready for the 2010 season, reports suggest the Earthquakes could play their home games in several different locations in the interim, including McAfee Coliseum in Oakland and Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto.

“While we are thrilled to bring Earthquakes soccer back to the Bay Area, we want to make one thing very clear: this is the dawn of a new era for professional soccer in San Jose,” said Wolff. “We join MLS at a very exciting juncture in the league’s – and the sport’s – history in the United States. We expect a very bright future for this team.”

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