Quakes' new stadium pivotal for team's future


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

Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win


Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win


SAN JOSE — Bruce Arena's return as U.S. coach reignited American confidence, and his players responded with an emphatic rebound in World Cup qualifying.

Clint Dempsey returned from an irregular heartbeat to score his second international hat trick, 18-year-old phenom Christian Pulisic had one goal and set up three others, and the U.S. routed Honduras 6-0 Friday night to get right back in contention for an eighth straight World Cup berth.

Surprise starter Sebastian Lletget got his first international goal in the fifth minute after Pulisic's shot deflected off the goalkeeper, Michael Bradley doubled the lead in the 27th and Dempsey scored off Pulisic's perfectly weighted chip in the 32nd.

Finding room to maneuver in a central midfield role, Pulisic made it 4-0 just 12 seconds into the second half with his fourth international goal, Dempsey rounded the keeper to score following a Pulisic feed in the 49th, and Dempsey got another on a 23-yard free kick in the 54th. With 55 international goals, Dempsey moved within two of Landon Donovan's American record.

In its first competitive match since Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. moved from last to fourth in the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region, tied at three points with Honduras but ahead on goal difference, Mexico leads with seven points, followed by Costa Rica with six and Panama with four.

The top three nations qualify for next year's tournament in Russia, and the fourth-place nation advances to a playoff. With a victory at Panama on Tuesday, the Americans could move into the top three.

The U.S. had never before won a hexagonal game by more than three goals.

And oh how the American Outlaws and others among the lively home crowd loved every second of this long-awaited showing, chanting "Michael Bradley!" and "Demp-sey! Demp-sey!" through the Bay Area rain and cool March air.

Then, it was "Bruce Arena! Bruce Arena!"

Gloom descended upon the Americans in November when they opened the hexagonal with a 2-1 home loss to Mexico and a 4-0 wipeout at Costa Rica. The defeats caused the U.S. Soccer Federation to fire Klinsmann, who had coached the Americans since 2011, and bring back Arena, who lead the team from 1998-2006.

Dempsey, 34 and hoping to reach a fourth World Cup, was sidelined from August until this month by an irregular heartbeat and likely was starting only because of injuries to Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris. Tim Howard, the Americans' 38-year-old goalkeeper, got the shutout after returning only two weeks ago from a leg injury sustained in the loss to Mexico.

Geoff Cameron, back from a knee strain that had sidelined him for fourth months, was shifted to right back from central defense because of injuries to others, and Jorge Villafana was inserted on the left.

But there were yet more injuries. Lletget hurt his left ankle on Ever Alvarado's tackle and was replaced in the 18th minute, and defender John Brooks was stretchered off the field, hand over his face, in the 69th due to dehydration.

From the opening whistle, the U.S. played more aggressively than in the latter years of Klinsmann's reign. Arena revamped the midfield, giving a prominent role to Pulisic, who last week became the youngest American to score in the Champions League. He inserted Lletget and Nagbe, who were largely overlooked by Klinsmann last year, on the flanks.

The U.S. went ahead when Jozy Altidore picked up a loose ball and on his second try poked the ball ahead to Pulisic. His left-footed shot that went off goalkeeper Donis Escobar, and Lletget tapped in the ball with his right foot from 2 yards.

Bradley, given his debut by Arena in 2006, doubled the lead when he took a pass from Alejando Bedoya, cut to his left, took four touches and cut the ball back to beat Escobar with one-hopper from about 25 yards.

Showing poise beyond his years, Pulisic created the third goal when he lofted a pass to Dempsey, who allowed the ball of bounce off his right shoulder. Dempsey held off Henry Figueroa and while falling scored with his right foot from 8 yards.

What they’re saying: Let’s go USMNT against Honduras


What they’re saying: Let’s go USMNT against Honduras

The United States Men's National Team faces a critical match against Honduras. 

With an 0-2 record, and currently in last place, the USMNT is on the brink of not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

Motivation across the sports world is pouring in for the Red, White and Blue.