Rosano: Earthquakes finally feeling comfortable at home


Rosano: Earthquakes finally feeling comfortable at home

June 5, 2011


SANTA CLARA -- The San Jose Earthquakesare currently one of the hottest teams in MLS. Despite the constant changes inpersonnel and formation, one oft-overlooked factor in the hot streak is indeedone of the oldest advantages in sports: home field advantage. After a stumbling start to the season that saw theEarthquakes pick up just two out of an available twelve points at home, theteam has gone on to post three straight home wins, the latest coming with a 2-0win on Saturday evening over the Houston Dynamo. Sandwiched around two draws onthe road, the Earthquakes can now boast a five-game unbeaten streak in MLSplay, extending back to a 1-1 draw at Vancouveron May 11.I like to think were finding a way to get things done athome, explained Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop. We look like we feel confident in front of our fans, feelconfident on the field that were playing on and feel confident that we, nomatter what happens in a game, I dont think we really get too down now, wejust get on with it. The Earthquakes developed a reputation as a fearsomeopponent on the road in the 2010 season, with late season road wins providingthem the necessary points to reach the playoffs despite a few stumbles at BuckShaw Stadium. Another win in New York saw theEarthquakes through to the Eastern Conference final, but they were unable tofind their away day mojo, falling 1-0 at Colorado.
RECAP: Lenhart, Dawkins lift Earthquakes past Dynamo
Since a win at Dallas in thesecond game of the season, however, the Earthquakes have found themselvesunable to collect three points on the road, excepting a 1-0 overtime win in aU.S. Open Cup qualifier at Portland.With the team sinking down the standings early on, though, they have stepped uptheir game at Buck Shaw.Since 2008, where we went on maybe a seven game unbeatenstreak, I think were starting to get our footing here at home andunderstanding how we want to go about our games here, explained Earthquakesdefender Jason Hernandez. I think we had a good game plan, we got intohalftime, made some adjustments, and thats a credit to the coaching staff andcredit to the players to step up and play and really answer the call. An intriguing addendum to the teams recent run of form isthat in their last four MLS games, all nine of the teams goals have come afterhalftime. While the Earthquakes have often struggled in the first half of thesegames, they have excelled at breaking down their opponents in the second half. We didnt panic. Weve actually done that for the pastthree home games that weve won, not played particularly well first half,explained Yallop. Ive not changed too much at halftime. They the playershave figured it out and got out and made the difference in the second half. Hernandez agreed that it was largely incumbent on theplayers to help make the necessary adjustments at halftime. I think it was important for us to come in at halftime andregroup and understand exactly what were trying to do, he explained. I thinkthe second half we came out with a lot more energy, we picked up the tempo andwe were able to get the goal we were looking for. We were fortunate enough tohold them off and get the second one, and thats really the sign of a goodteam. While the players mapped out their adjustments for thesecond half, Yallops task involved motivating Lenhart, the man who would go onto net the game-winning goal. I just tried to focus him at halftime, Yallop explained.I said, Just relax and do your thing. You played well for the last 15 minutesof the first half, continue that and youll get your goal. Lenhart himself was more ambivalent on the subject, saying,I try to work hard, not focus on my nerves, things that I dont need to worryabout. Whether I did that or not in the second half, it was good to get agoal. Whatever did the trick, it has the Earthquakes flying highat home. While there is still plenty of work to be done for the team to climbout of the bottom half of the standings and plenty of time left in the season,the Earthquakes will hope to add a strong home record to their formula forsuccess.For more Earthquakes, MLS and soccer musings, youcan follow Nick Rosano on Twitter: @nicholasrosano

Quakes look to regroup after disappointing 2016 season


Quakes look to regroup after disappointing 2016 season

This time last year, there was a totally different kind of disappointment over at San Jose Earthquakes headquarters. Yes, they had missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season, but they battled to the very end and came within a couple of points of earning an invitation to the dance.

That sort of late-season run filled the franchise and fans with optimism heading into 2016.

But after an 8-12-14 mark, a ninth place finish in the Western Conference that tied for the worst since their return to MLS and the firing of a general manager midseason, the Quakes are a team faced with the idea of having to stop backwards momentum and restore faith with a fan base that is antsy for a winner on the field.

MVP: Chris Wondolowski fits the truest definition of valuable for the Earthquakes. Off the field, the forward continued and expanded his role of face and ambassador for the franchise. You’d be hard pressed to find another MLS player who exemplifies their club more than Wondolowski.

On the field, it’s almost cringe-worthy to think of where the Quakes would be without Wondolowski. As expected, for yet another season, he led the team in goals with 12 and was fourth in assists -- but his numbers are amplified by a San Jose offense that finished last in MLS with just 32 goals scored this season.

And most importantly, an offense that already struggled to find the back of the net would take an even greater (and incredibly visible) hit when Wondolowski was not in the lineup playing for the U.S. Men’s National Team, or just flat out struggling – consider that in the months when Wondolowski did not score, whether on international duty or not, the Quakes only managed 12 of the possible 36 points and scored two or more goals in a single match just three times.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: A few names come to mind, but with a back line that was ravaged by injuries peppered throughout the season, Marvell Wynne demonstrated the versatility and consistency the Quakes desperately needed. Wynne played all along Dominic Kinnear’s back line, logging the fourth-most minutes on the team behind two other DPOY candidates in David Bingham and Victor Bernardez, plus the aforementioned Wondolowski.

San Jose will have a tough choice to make with Wynne in the offseason with his contract up and a well-deserved raise in the cards -- but his age and its value proposition comes into question. Yet in 2016, Wynne was a lifeline for the Quakes.

BEST OF TIMES: With just eight wins this season, there weren’t a ton of bright spots for the Quakes. But they earned a huge moral victory for northern California soccer when they hosted the MLS All-Star Game.

For a week, San Jose, Silicon Valley and Avaya Stadium was the center of the MLS universe as the stars convened on Coleman Avenue to celebrate the sport.

WORST OF TIMES: It seems pretty crazy to remember that the Quakes actually got off to the best start in franchise history when they won back-to-back games for their first 2-0-0 start ever and a strong 3-1-2 record through their first six matches.

But injuries to the back line and up front (see: Quincy Amarikwa), made thing very difficult for Kinnear to put his best 11 on the field consistency.

Those injuries, coupled with San Jose’s inability to find any sort of traction or winning consistency away from Avaya Stadium really put the season on the down slope. The Quakes only won one road match in 2016.

THE GREAT UNKNOWN: Currently, the Quakes are a team without a general manager. And for a team that obviously needs a couple of pieces, the sooner they hand the reins to someone, the better.

The Earthquakes hired Nolan Partners, the world's largest sports executive search firm, to help identify the club's next GM while technical director Chris Leitch currently fills that void.

According to the Quakes, Nolan Partners will conduct the search both domestically and internationally, using a strict set of criteria to find the best candidates in line with the organization's long-term aspirations.

The clock is ticking though.


Not to sound overly dramatic with the one-word paragraphs, but with just 32 goals this season, and a formula dependent so much on just one player, the Quakes have to hit the drawing board hard and look to add a couple of pieces to make them more competitive up front.

A full offseason with Simon Dawkins could be beneficial – so should the resigning of Alberto Quintero.

But finding a true No. 9 to play in front of Wondolowski and allow the master to roam free underneath where he can do major damage would go a long way in making a much-needed ascent up the offensive categories.

THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS: For those who have resigned themselves to the idea of San Jose being a big-market, high-budget team, the focus has naturally shifted to the youth movement that should follow. The Quakes have taken steps towards that with affiliation deals in the Premier Development League (Burlingame Dragons FC) and the United Soccer League (Sacramento Republic and Reno 1868) to look and develop the next wave of Earthquakes.

The big picture revolves around when the Quakes decide to flip the switch and fully commit to young talent coming through that pipeline. In 2016, San Jose was one of the oldest teams in MLS – could 2017 be the start of the long-awaited Quakes youth movement?

After best start in franchise history, Quakes' rough season ends on low note


After best start in franchise history, Quakes' rough season ends on low note


A San Jose Earthquakes season that began with the best start in franchise history ended on Sunday with an all-too-familiar result and feeling.

A Sporting Kansas City first half penalty shot and 89th minute-goal was more than enough offense to finish the Quakes' season on a low note in what was a 2-0 loss at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City.

The Earthquakes finished the 2016 campaign with an 8-14-12 record -- their 12 losses are tied for second most since returning to San Jose after a two-year hiatus in 2008.

The shutout is also the 12th the Quakes suffered this season and San Jose has now missed the playoffs four straight years.

San Jose pressed Sporting Kansas City in the first half and was almost rewarded with a goal on both occasions.

But it was Kansas City who made the most of their opportunities and those don’t come much better than a penalty shot. 

Benny Feilhaber stepped up to the spot in the 27th minute after an awkward bounce hit Cordell Cato in the arm, forcing the referee to call for the penalty. Feilhaber beat David Bingham to the keeper's left for his seventh goal of the season.

The second half was noteworthy for its chippiness more than any real threat by San Jose to try and equalize. Referee Drew Fischer handed out five yellow cards in the half -- three to the Quakes. 

Sporting KC left the game way beyond reach for San Jose when Feilhaber found a streaking Dominic Dwyer on the right side who emphatically finished past Bingham for the 2-0 result. 

Man of the Match: Feilhaber gave San Jose fits the entire match and the Quakes had no answers for the midfielder. Feilhaber and Dwyer almost connected on a couple of other occasions that might have made the result worse for the Quakes. 

Attendance: 20,371 watched Sporting KC advance to the MLS Cup playoffs. 

Up Next: It's back to the drawing board for the Quakes who will reconvene in Tucson next season for preseason camp.