Quakes' new stadium pivotal for team's future

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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

Earthquakes sign Valeri ‘Vako’ Qazaishvili as latest Designated Player

Earthquakes sign Valeri ‘Vako’ Qazaishvili as latest Designated Player

(Editor's Note: The above video is from January 2017)

The San Jose Earthquakes announced today that the club has signed Georgia National Team attacking midfielder Valeri ‘Vako’ Qazaishvili as a Designated Player, pending receipt of his P-1 Visa and ITC. Qazaishvili scored for Georgia in their most recent World Cup qualifying match on June 11.

“We were looking for a player, a younger, offensive player, that really excites the fans and has the possibility to stay with us for a long period of time. That’s what we found with Vako,” said Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli. “We wanted a player that knows how to take on a defender one-on-one, that sees the goal and that also wants to bring a spark to our game.”

Qazaishvili, 24, becomes San Jose’s youngest ever Designated Player after six years with SBV Vitesse of the Dutch Eredivisie. He tallied 25 goals and 10 assists in 104 league games for the Dutch side, adding another three goals and three assists in other top-flight competition.

Qazaishvili began his career in his native Georgia with FC Saburtalo in 2010, spending time on loan with Metalurgi Rustavi and Sioni Bulnisi. He then moved on to Vitesse in August of 2011 at just 18 years old, tallying one goal in four appearances for the first team in his debut season.

From 2012-13 to 2013-14, Qazaishvili spent significant time with the U-21 squad, scoring 14 goals in 30 league appearances for the youth side and establishing himself as a first-team player.

Qazaishvili then scored nine goals during the 2014-15 Eredivisie season and a team-best 10 in 2015-16. He later spent the majority of the 2016-17 season on loan with Poland’s Legia Warsaw, helping them win the league championship with a 21-6-10 overall record.

In addition to his experience in league play, Qazaishvili has made eight appearances in international cup competition, including Europa League qualifiers, Europa League and UEFA Champions League. He appeared against clubs such as Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid in Champions League play.

He also has extensive experience playing with the Georgia National Team, scoring nine goals in 24 appearances at various youth levels and five goals in 23 appearances for the senior team.

Earthquakes media services

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Quakes' draw with Sporting KC

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Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Quakes' draw with Sporting KC

SAN JOSE -- People say that the when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging. 

So if you’re someone who believes in that, Saturday’s 0-0 draw is a good thing for the San Jose Earthquakes. After dropping two straight MLS matches, the Quakes needed to stop the bleeding and were faced with doing so against the Western Conference’s top team, Sporting Kansas City — no small task. 

Here are five things you need to know about a scoreless, albeit positive, affair Saturday afternoon at Avaya Stadium. 

— Quakes head coach Dominic Kinnear’s troubles began even before San Jose took to the pitch on Saturday. We knew of three key cogs — Florian Jungwirth, Marco Urena, Darwin Ceren — already out with injury or suspension. But things got worse when Fatai Alashe and Simon Dawkins became unavailable. The result: Kinnear’s lineup card listed just 16 players — three of which have spent the vast majority of their season playing for San Jose’s United Soccer League affiliate, Reno 1868. Of those three, one saw playing time — Jackson Yueill, who made his MLS debut.

— The draw is positive for two reasons. One, San Jose was without several key players and it would have been very easy to use that as an excuse for a less than stellar effort. And two, the draws snaps a two-game MLS slide. The race for a playoff spot in the Western Conference is congested. San Jose may be in seventh place, but the draw keeps them just eight points behind first place Sporting KC. 

— The first half unfolded as expected — the shorthanded Quakes had no choice but to play a defensive game and hope Sporting KC made a mistake on a counterattack. That didn’t happen. In fact, three times, SKC had an open net and couldn’t capitalize. San Jose, on the other hand, did not record a single shot on Tim Melia’s goal. Things opened up a little more in the second half for the Quakes. But as its been the case for some time now, the Quakes simply could not break through. KC's Graham Zusi had arguably the match's best chance with mere seconds left to play. The clean sheet for Kansas City means the visitors have now allowed just eight road goals in nine matches all season long. 

— Saturday’s match against Sporting KC was the second in a very busy stretch for the Quakes. Last Wednesday, the Quakes took down the San Francisco Deltas (NASL) 2-0 in U.S. Open Cup play. However, the win means another game on the schedule the following Wednesday — against the reigning MLS champion Seattle Sounders. 

In all, by the time San Jose faces Los Angeles in Stanford Stadium for the Cali Clasico, the Quakes will have played five matches in 18 days before packing up for a cross country trip to Atlanta for another game on Independence Day. 

Tired legs, indeed. 

— A couple of logistic particulars: Saturday’s reported attendance was 18,000 — another sell-out for Avaya Stadium where the Quakes remain very stout. As a side note, the Quakes announced earlier in the week they have sold over 30,000 tickets for the aforementioned Cali Clasico at Stanford Stadium. 

Chris Wondolowski and Anibal Godoy went into the book with yellow cards on Saturday. 

Next up, the Quakes will take on Real Salt Lake next Saturday at Avaya Stadium with kick scheduled for 7:30 p.m.