Earthquakes aim for playoff return in 2012

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Earthquakes aim for playoff return in 2012

Programming note: Watch Saturday night's season opener at 7:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California.

SAN JOSE (AP) -- Hiring an unproven coach and installing a new system has the New England Revolution living up to their nickname.

A slew of changes and a milestone ruling have the San Jose Earthquakes feeling confident.

Jay Heaps looks to win his coaching debut and prove the Revolution's solid preseason is a sign of things to come Saturday night when they visit the Earthquakes to open the MLS season.

New England finished at the bottom of the Eastern Conference last season with a 5-16-13 record, failing to reach the playoffs for a second consecutive year. That was enough to cost coach Steve Nicol his job after 10 seasons.

RELATED: Earthquakes stats roster schedule

With the Revs in the midst of a rebuilding project, they opted to hire Heaps, the club's television analyst for two years after spending 11 as a rugged, stalwart defender -- nine with New England.

The stunning hire was followed by an equally surprising change; the Revolution would be altering their system to a more possession-based one to encourage offensive play.

The style showed promise during preseason, as New England won three of four games (3-0-1), outscoring 2011 MLS Cup champion Los Angeles, New York and Salt Lake by a combined 7-3 in those victories.

"At times, it's been very positive," Heaps told the team's official website. "We've shown that we have players on the field who, when they have the ball at their feet, can change the game and that's what we really want to create.

"We also have good, strong, athletic players who can also get in behind. So we want to have kind of a one-two punch where we keep possession and we wear teams down, but then have the ability to get behind them."

One of those players is Saer Sene, a French forward who was has size (6-foot-3) and speed. He spent nearly three years with Germany's Bayern Munich, but was limited to playing for the reserve team. However, he had 19 goals in 55 matches.

"He's a great striker of the ball," Heaps said. "Now, (the question) is going to be can we spring him? Can we get him in dangerous areas?"

That task will be up to a midfield that stars captain Shalrie Joseph, U.S. international Benny Feilhaber and 20-year-old Kelyn Rowe, the third overall selection in January's SuperDraft.

Rowe, who left UCLA two years early, has been used in offensive-minded roles with various U.S. youth national teams.

"We're so excited and so looking forward to Saturday night," Joseph said. "Even though it's on the road, it feels good just getting our season started. Everybody's just ready to get that first kick in and get a win on the road."

The changes could help New England, which went 1-9-7 on the road last season. The team is 1-6-2 in its last nine visits to San Jose.

The Earthquakes are also looking to capitalize on changes, as they enter 2012 looking to return to the playoffs after going 8-12-14 last season.

They added midfielders Marvin Chavez, Tressor Moreno and rookie Sam Garza along with defender Victor Bernardez to a roster that already boasts Chris Wondolowski, who has totaled 34 goals over the last two seasons.

"We brought in some great guys, especially offensively, and I think that's really going to help produce (goals) and be very dangerous in the attack," Wondolowski told the team's official website. "I know other guys are going to be scoring a lot, but I think goal totals in general -- and general play for us -- will improve."

Wondolowski has three goals in the last four meetings with New England, including both in a 2-1 road victory Oct. 8.

The Quakes' optimism may also stem from last month's unanimous vote by the San Jose Planning Commission that approved the building of a new stadium.

Earthquakes acquire Danny Hoesen and Florian Jungwirth

Earthquakes acquire Danny Hoesen and Florian Jungwirth

The San Jose Earthquakes announced today that the club has acquired Dutch forward Danny Hoesen on a season-long loan, with an option to buy, using Targeted Allocation Money and signed German defender/midfielder Florian Jungwirth using Targeted Allocation Money, pending receipt of P-1 Visas and ITC.

Hoesen, 26, most recently played for FC Groningen of the Dutch Eredivisie. Since joining FC Groningen ahead of the 2014-15 season, Hoesen has tallied 15 goals and five assists in 72 appearances, including four goals in 12 matches so far this season. He helped the club win the 2014-15 KNVB Cup, the Dutch version of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

"Danny Hoesen gives us a player with a strong frame that is tall, but also has a fast pace," said Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli. "He can attack the space in counter-attack situations. He can also work in tandem with whichever striker will be supporting him. He's a player that comes from very attack-minded football in Holland and will be the perfect striker to give us an additional element in the box that we may have been missing."

Hoesen began his professional career with Fortuna Sittard of the Dutch second division, before joining English side Fulham FC in 2008 at the age of 17. Playing with Fulham's U-23 side, Hoesen spent time on loan with HJK Helsinki of the Finnish first division in 2010, helping the club win the league title, and later his former club Fortuna Sittard (2011-12) before returning to England in June of 2012. He scored four goals in 10 total appearances for Fulham's youth side.

In August of 2012, Hoesen was transferred to Dutch powerhouse Ajax. Over the next season and a half, Hoesen scored 13 goals and added six assists in 44 appearances across all competitions for the first team, while also scoring eight goals in 22 appearances for the club's U-21 squad. He helped Ajax win the 2012-13 league title and the 2013 Johan Cruyff Shield. Hoesen also appeared in five UEFA Champions League matches against Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, FC Barcelona and AC Milan, scoring goals against Dortmund and Barcelona.

He then joined Greek first division side PAOK Thessaloniki on loan in January of 2014 and finished the season with one goal and two assists. Hoesen was then transferred from Ajax to FC Groningen in July of 2014 where he remained until signing with San Jose.

Internationally, Hoesen has made 13 total appearances for the Netherlands at various youth levels, scoring three goals.

Jungwirth, 28, joins the Earthquakes after two and a half seasons with SV Darmstadt 98 of the German Bundesliga. He made 63 appearances for Darmstadt, recording three assists, and helped the club earn promotion from the 2. Bundesliga to the top flight with a second place finish in 2014-15.

"Florian is capable of playing all defensive positions. He came up through the German National Team system and won the European Cup with them," said Fioranelli. "He grew up as a central defender, on both the right and the left. He was later moved to defensive midfield because he is a player that has a strong presence and is very logical and careful when it comes to possession and build-up situations. He is a player that has a lot of heart and has been very much liked on every team that he's played for because he will fight for his teammates and is a natural leader."

Jungwirth began his career at the youth ranks of TSV 1860 Munich. After making 33 appearances for the club's U-19 side, he earned his way onto the club's reserve squad, TSV 1860 Munich II, where he tallied three assists in 48 games played.

In January of 2010, he was transferred to Dynamo Dresden of the 2. Bundesliga, where he remained for three and a half seasons. During his time with Dresden, Jungwirth made 97 appearances and recorded two assists.

Ahead of the 2013-14 season, Jungwirth moved to VfL Bochum, also of the 2. Bundesliga. During his one season with the club, he scored one goal in 30 appearances with the first team and two goals in four appearances with the club's reserve side. Jungwirth then signed with Darmstadt in September of 2014.

Internationally, Jungwirth has made 44 appearances for Germany at various youth levels from U-16 to U-20, scoring two goals.

"I think both guys have a strong background coming from top leagues overseas and will help on both sides of the ball," said Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear. "Our expectation is that Danny will score goals and Florian will provide a solid presence on the backline."

Earthquakes media services

Levi's Stadium to host 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup final

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AP

Levi's Stadium to host 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup final

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — This year's CONCACAF Gold Cup final will be played on July 26 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football announced first-round sites in December and the site of the final on Wednesday. The 12-nation tournament opens July 7 at Harrison, New Jersey.

The United States and defending champion Mexico head a field that includes Canada, Costa Rica, Curacao, El Salvador, French Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique and Panama. The final spot will be determined by a playoff between Haiti and Nicaragua in March.