By John Zielonka
The new/old San Jose Earthquakes returned
as an expansion team after the original Quakes moved to Houston two
Coach Frank Yallop emphasized defense in the
makeup of his team. He needed to add experience offensively to
keep San Jose in the hunt for a playoff slot.
to get the offense and defense to click at the same time ultimately
saw San Jose fade in the stretch.
Keeper Joe Cannon and the rest of the
backline allowed 38 goals during the season, the league’s fourth best
total. San Jose’s offense had trouble scoring goals early in
the season and netted only 11 goals in their first 17 games, lowest
in the MLS at that time.
The July arrival of midfielder Daren
Huckerby drove San Jose out of their early season shutout funk and to
the brink of making the playoffs. His ability to move and turn
allowed more room for his teammates to score and pass. Huckerby’s
skill, talent and experience led the team to a league best nine game
The defense started to falter just
as playoff run began in October. They returned to the bottom
of the conference after losing four of seven games, two in stoppage
time. The losses piled up and San Jose was eventually eliminated
from the playoffs.
The Quakes run was remarkable for an
expansion team. Midseason trades bolstered a weak offense and
came within striking distance of making the playoffs. After an
impressive record in August and September, fatigue may have set in the
latter stages of the season.
Despite the up and down nature of their
first season, San Jose, with minor additions and tweaking, can become
a contender in 2009.
Goal.com presents a monthly synopsis of highlights, lowlights
and other tidbits during the 2008 season:
Lewis Woff, owner of the Earthquakes and baseball’s Oakland A’s
, contemplates involving his A’s GM Billy Beane
and his Moneyball statistical techniques in soccer.
San Jose will play the majority of their games at Buckshaw Stadium
on the campus of Santa Clara University. For larger crowds, the
venue will be the Oakland Coliseum.. The team is negotiating with
the city of San Jose to build a soccer specific stadium by 2011.
Coach Frank Yallop builds the team around keeper Joe Cannon, defender
Nick Garcia and forwards Ronnie O’Brien and Ned Gravabov. The
team lacks depth up front, but is strong on defense.
The Earthquakes return to San Jose for the first time since the
original franchise moved to Houston two years ago. They play to
a scoreless draw against the Chicago Fire. They earn their first win
of the season against the Rapids.
Record: 1 win, 0 ties, 3 losses
San Jose emerges victorious in an emotional 2-1 first home win
against the Dynamo (the old Earthquakes). James Riley returns
to New England after spending three years with the Revs. His homecoming
includes scoring a howler own-goal that leads to another San Jose loss.
Record: 1 win, 1 tie, 2 losses
Ronnie O'Brien dominates in a 2-0 away win against the Columbus
Crew. The inability to score goals remains a problem with eight
shutouts in 14 games. Record: 1 win, 2 ties, 2 losses
San Jose acquires rights from Toronto FC for English striker Darren
Huckerby and signs him to a contact. Team has MLS' worst
scoring total, with only 12 goals in 18 games.. Midfielder/defender
Ivan Guerrero is sent to D.C. United. Record: 0 wins, 2 ties,
Darren Huckerby leads the ‘Quakes of out last place in the Western
Conference by scoring three goals and three assists since joining the
team. Ronnie O’Brien scores two goals in a 4-0 annihilation
of the New England Revolution. The team is two points out of a
playoff spot with eight games remaining. Record: 3 wins,
1 tie, 0 losses
Huckerby is named MLS Player of the Month after scoring three
times and assisting once. ‘Quakes unbeaten streak ends at nine
games after loss to Real Salt Lake. San Jose returns to last place
in the Western Conference and needs five points to make the playoffs.
The away match with the Dynamo is postponed due to hurricane damage
in the Houston area. Record: 1 win, 1 tie, 1 loss
Relationship is announced with English Premier League Tottenham Hotspur
FC. Kansas City shutout win eliminates San Jose from playoff contention.
Earthquakes finish season with 2-0 win against Toronto FC.
Record: 1 win, 1 tie, 3 losses
Darren Huckerby named MLS Newcomer of the Year and ‘Quakes Most Valuable
Coaching staff visits Tottentam Hotspur to exchange ideas on training
techniques, infrastructure and commercial development.
John Zielonka is the Goal.com correspondent in Seattle, Washington.