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

Seattle wins MLS Cup, beating Toronto on penalty kicks

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USATSI

Seattle wins MLS Cup, beating Toronto on penalty kicks

TORONTO -- As homecomings go, the MLS Cup final is going to be hard to beat for Seattle's Stefan Frei.

Frei made critical saves in regulation and then again in the penalty-kick shootout to help the Sounders win their first championship with a 5-4 victory in the tiebreaker against Toronto FC on Saturday night.

The Swiss goalkeeper, who was drafted by Toronto in 2009 and spent five seasons with the club until he was traded in 2013, earned the game's MVP honors.

"This is what you want to be a part of," he said. "We've made Sounders history and for me it could have happened anywhere, I don't care as long as I'm with my team and my teammates."

Roman Torres scored in the sixth round of penalty kicks to clinch the trophy after 120 scoreless minutes. It was the first MLS Cup final to fail to produce a goal in regulation, setting the stage for a dramatic tiebreaker.

While Toronto's Michael Bradley and Alvaro Fernandez for Seattle had both seen their shots saved, the game went to sudden-death spot kicks. Toronto's Justin Morrow could only clatter his shot off the crossbar, setting the stage for Torres to win it with a high shot down the middle of the goal.

"You need a little bit of luck," Frei said. "Let's face it, PKs are not the prettiest thing to decide a game, and actually Roman missed a penalty in training yesterday. I'm glad he missed yesterday and not today."

Seattle became the first team in MLS Cup final history to fail to produce a shot on target throughout the game. Additionally, the Sounders' three shots overall were the fewest in an MLS title game, the first to feature two expansion franchises. Toronto was the first Canadian MLS Cup finalist.

That meant little to Bradley, who was understandably dejected after seeing his team become just the second to lose at home since MLS switched from having the final at a neutral location to the home stadium of the finalist with the most regular-season points in 2012. The Portland Timbers became the first when they won the championship in Columbus against the Crew last year.

"Every guy gave everything they had, every guy walked off the field having pored their hearts into the game and we didn't get rewarded tonight," Bradley said. "That's sports, that's life."

With the game on the line, Toronto coach Greg Vanney removed former MLS most valuable player Sebastian Giovinco in the 103rd minute in favor of Tosaint Ricketts. While Vanney said that an exhausted Giovinco "couldn't move," after the game, the gutsy call almost paid off.

Following Ricketts' cross five minutes after coming on, it looked as if Jozy Altidore was going to give Toronto the lead in the 108th minute with a looping header, but an athletic save from Frei kept it scoreless. Leaping to his left, he scooped the ball off the line with his left hand, allowing his defense to clear the ball to safety.

"Obviously Frei makes a couple big saves that keep them in it," Vanney said. "But congratulations to them."

For Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer, who took over from Sigi Schmid on July 26 with Seattle in ninth place in the Western Conference, the turnaround was complete. Posting an 8-2-4 record since then, Seattle became the first team in MLS history to make the playoffs after having 20 or fewer points through the season's first 20 matches.

"Some people say defense wins championships," he said. "You couple Roman's performance with Stefan Frei, who came up massive with that one save and then in the penalty-kick shootout made the save that he needed to make."

ONE COLD NIGHT

The temperature at kickoff was 28 degrees, making it the second-coldest MLS Cup on record. That honor goes to the 2013 edition at Sporting Park in Kansas City, where the game kicked off at 22 degrees.

ONE HOT TICKET

While the remaining tickets for Saturday's final sold out in three minutes after going on sale to the general public last Monday, there were still 90 or so tickets available on StubHub 10 minutes prior to kickoff. Prices ranged from $147 up to $2,500 for a ticket that retailed between $55 and $555 at face value.

THE POWER OF CHANGE

Schmetzer became the first coach in MLS history to take charge of a team midway through the season and lead it to a championship. Schmid (Los Angeles Galaxy) and Steve Nicol (New England Revolution) took their teams to the title match, but both came up short.

THE PRICE IS RIGHT

"I hope we get to do this every year; it's pretty fun. If we don't win the championship every year I hope everyone has to go through us to get to the championship every year and when they get here they're bloody and bruised and can barely play." — Seattle Sounders part-owner, and host of the Price is Right, Drew Carey, in the locker room after the game.

Earthquakes announce roster moves ahead of 2017 season

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AP

Earthquakes announce roster moves ahead of 2017 season

The San Jose Earthquakes announced today that the club has exercised 2017 contract options on six players: goalkeeper David Bingham, defenders Victor Bernardez, Kip Colvey and Andres Imperiale, and midfielders Fatai Alashe and Matheus Silva.

The Earthquakes will not exercise options on nine players, including goalkeeper Bryan Meredith, defender Clarence Goodson, midfielders Marc Pelosi and Tommy Thompson, and forwards Chad Barrett, Henok Goitom, Innocent, Steven Lenhart and Mark Sherrod.

In addition, the following players are under contract for the 2017 season: goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell, defender Shaun Francis, midfielders Cordell Cato, Darwin Ceren, Simon Dawkins, Anibal Godoy and Shea Salinas, and forwards Quincy Amarikwa and Chris Wondolowski.

Stage One of the Re-Entry Draft will take place on Friday, Dec. 16 at 12 p.m. PT and Stage Two of the Re-Entry Draft will take place on Thursday, Dec. 22 at 12 p.m. PT. The two drafts will take place via teleconference with all 22 clubs represented. MLS will release the results following each of the calls. Both of the Re-Entry Drafts will be conducted in the same order as the traditional Waiver Draft.

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