San Jose Earthquakes Profile
|Major Honours||MLS Cup (2), MLS Supporters' Shield (2)|
Founder members of Major League Soccer, San Jose Earthquakes are looking to rekindle their glory days which twice saw them crowned MLS champions.
One of the original teams of Major League Soccer, the San Jose Earthquakes have a complicated and unique history. Founded in 1994 as the San Jose Clash, they played in the Californian city from 1996 to 2005 before the owners, Anschutz Entertainment Group, moved the team to Houston for the 2006 season. In 2008, the franchise returned, this time owned by Earthquakes Soccer LLC. The team has been owned by five different groups, including MLS, but the current ownership group has been in place since 2008.
On the field, they had plenty of success before the move to Houston, with MLS Cup titles in 2001 and 2003, a Supporters' Shield in 2005, and a quarter-final appearance in the CONCACAF Champions Cup in 2002. Since their return, things have been rockier, with just four play-off appearances in their last 13 seasons and only one top-five finish in the Western Conference.
The team colours have been blue and black with white highlights through both incarnations. The Clash logo featured a scorpion in red and black with 'Clash' written in white. The rebrand to the Earthquakes in 1999 brought a new badge with an inverted triangular shield. A soccer ball inside the shield resembled a rising sun like the city of San Jose logo. The team rebranded again in 2014 and the new shield, while still in black and blue colours, features the year 1974 to represent the first year of professional soccer in San Jose.
The team began playing at Spartan Stadium, home of the San Jose State college football team. With a capacity of 31,000, Spartan Stadium was their home from 1996 to 2005. On returning to San Jose, the Earthquakes played at Buck Shaw Stadium on the campus of Santa Clara University from 2008 to 2014. In 2015, they moved into the 18,000-seater soccer-specific Avaya Stadium near San Jose International Airport.
Chris Wondolowski, who holds the MLS record of 166 goals (162 with San Jose), has played for San Jose since 2005, minus the interruption in Houston. Landon Donovan, who leads the US men's national team in goals scored, began his MLS career with San Jose on loan from Bayer Leverkusen. Brian Ching, Dwayne De Rosario, Jeff Agoos, John Doyle, Joe Cannon, Bobby Convey, Eric Wynalda, Eddie Lewis, Pat Onstad, Shea Salinas and Ramiro Corrales have also called San Jose home.
The Clash and the beginning
The San Jose Clash were an inaugural MLS team, set to be owned by Daniel Van Voorhis, who ran the San Jose Hawks in the American Professional Soccer League. MLS bought him out before the first game and the team was league-owned, with Peter Bridgwater as the first general manager and Laurie Calloway as the first manager. US national team star forward Eric Wynalda and midfielder Eddie Lewis were assigned to the first team along with Hawks legend John Doyle.
The Clash hosted the first-ever game in MLS history with 31,683 fans on hand on April 6, 1996, as they secured a 1-0 win over D.C. United with Wynalda scoring. They set a city of San Jose record with 31,728 fans against LA Galaxy in May, but the season was fraught with conflicts between the star (Wynalda) and the coach (Calloway). The Clash finished fourth in the West and made the MLS Cup play-offs. Tayt Ianni scored their lone play-off goal in a three-game loss to the LA Galaxy as the Clash won the first game 1-0 before two straight 2-0 defeats.
Calloway was fired halfway through the 1997 season and Brian Quinn was made interim manager. The Clash lost to the San Francisco Bay Seals in the US Open Cup quarter-finals 2-1 and missed the MLS play-offs with a last-place finish in the West.
Quinn stayed on for the 1998 season and San Jose drafted Wade Barrett in the first round while also adding Caleb Porter and Alberto Montoya. They again missed the play-offs with a last-place finish and lost in the quarter-finals of the US Open Cup.
The Clash added Jimmy Conrad, Joe Cannon, Jamie Clark and Leighton O'Brien for the 1999 season and set an MLS record with 11 shootout wins. Quinn was fired and Lothar Osiander took over. After missing the first 11 games of the season, Wynalda was traded to Miami after scoring 21 goals in 57 games for the club. San Jose missed the play-offs for a third-straight season.
The Clash become the Earthquakes... and winners
The Kraft Sports Group purchased the team and the franchise changed from the Clash to the Earthquakes in late 1999. However, they still missed the play-offs in 2000 with a last-place finish. Osiander was fired and Frank Yallop was hired on February 3, 2001. The team made significant moves, bringing in Landon Donovan on loan from Bayer Leverkusen while adding midfielder Dwayne De Rosario and USMNT defenders Jimmy Conrad and Jeff Agoos. Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment took over ownership of the team, adding the Earthquakes to the San Jose Sharks (NHL) group.
The team went from 29 points in 2000 to 45 points in 2001, making the play-offs with a second-place finish in the West. In the conference semi-finals, they beat Columbus Crew 6-1 on aggregate as Donovan scored two goals in the first leg and another in the second. They lost the first leg of the conference final 1-0 at Miami Fusion but won the next two games by a combined score of 5-0 to advance. The 2001 MLS Cup final was played in Columbus and the Earthquakes upset LA Galaxy 2-1 as Donovan scored in the 43rd minute and De Rosario grabbed a golden goal in the 96th minute.
The Earthquakes finished second in the West again in 2002 while also playing in the CONCACAF Champions Cup for the first time. They beat Olimpia in the first round 4-1 on aggregate before losing 3-1 to Pachuca in the quarter-finals. In the MLS Cup play-offs, they lost to Columbus Crew 2-1 in both legs of the conference semi-finals.
Goalkeeper Pat Onstad and forward Brian Ching joined the team for the 2003 season as Anschutz Entertainment Group took full ownership. The Earthquakes lost in the first round of the Champions Cup to Municipal from Guatemala. In MLS play, they won 14 of 30 games and earned the Supporters' Shield with 51 points. They rallied from a 4-0 deficit to beat LA Galaxy 5-4 on aggregate in the first round of the play-offs, with Rodrigo Faria scoring a golden goal in the 96th minute. San Jose had to go into extra time in the conference final as Donovan's 117th-minute goal beat Kansas City 3-2. The 2003 MLS Cup final was in Carson, California, and San Jose beat Chicago Fire 4-2 as Donovan scored twice.
Yallop left to coach the Canadian men's national team and assistant Dominic Kinnear was named manager for the 2004 season. San Jose took the final playoff spot in 2004, but they were eliminated by Kansas City 3-2 on aggregate in the first round.
New general manager Alexi Lalas traded away Donovan's rights while the star forward was back in Germany in January 2005. Agoos was also traded for Ricardo Clark while Ronald Cerritos and Wade Barrett were brought back. San Jose drafted Chris Wondolowski while also adding Brad Davis and Danny Califf. The 2005 Earthquakes were the first MLS team to go through the entire season without a home defeat, winning the Supporters' Shield with 64 points. However, they lost in the first play-off series 4-2 on aggregate to the Galaxy as Donovan burned his former team with two goals.
After the 2005 season, the team moved to Houston to become the Dynamo and San Jose was without a professional soccer team for the first time since 1973.
The return of the Earthquakes and Yallop
While all the players and coaches went to Houston, San Jose retained the team name, colours, crest and records. Earthquakes Soccer LLC was established in September 2006 and eventually brought an expansion team back to San Jose for the 2008 season. Oakland A's owner Lew Wolff led the group and A's president Michael Crowley led the new Earthquakes from 2008 to 2010.
Yallop was brought back to manage the team after two seasons in charge of the Galaxy. England's Darren Huckerby and Ireland's Ronnie O'Brien were part of the expansion team in 2008, along with Shea Salinas, Joe Cannon and Nick Garcia. San Jose had a nine-game unbeaten streak late in the season, with O'Brien and Huckerby combining for 10 goals and 10 assists. However, they missed the play-offs with just eight wins in 30 games.
San Jose missed the play-offs again in 2009, but they made a big trade with Houston to bring Wondolowski back. In 2010, the Earthquakes made the play-offs with 46 points as they finished sixth in the West. Wondolowski led the team with 18 goals as they also added defender Ike Opara and Brazilian midfielder Geovanni. After losing the first play-off game 1-0, they beat New York Red Bulls 3-1 in the second leg as Bobby Convey scored twice and Wondolowski scored too. The conference finals ended with a 1-0 loss to Colorado Rapids though.
Wondolowski led the team in scoring again in 2011, but the Earthquakes missed the play-offs. They bounced back in 2012, winning seven of their first nine games and adopting the Goonies' "never say die" motto with late goal after late goal. They finished the season with nine in a row unbeaten and Wondolowski set a new MLS record with 27 goals over the season. The Earthquakes won the Supporters' Shield but were knocked out of the play-offs in the first round by the Galaxy, 3-2 on aggregate.
The 2013 season started slowly with just two wins from their first 10 games. Yallop was fired in early June, with Mark Watson taking over. They won their group in the Champions League but failed to reach the MLS play-offs.
San Jose's struggles post-Yallop
Watson started the 2014 season in place and the Earthquakes lost in the quarter-finals of the Champions League on penalties against Toluca in Mexico. The 2014 MLS season was a disaster with a 15-match winless streak and their joint-worst points tally to that point with just six wins.
Kinnear was brought back to manage the team for the 2015 season after leading the Houston Dynamo to two titles with players who had originated in San Jose. They also played their first competitive game at Avaya Stadium (now Earthquakes Stadium) against Chicago Fire on March 22, 2015. Wondolowski scored his 100th goal against Orlando City, but the Earthquakes missed the play-offs again. After also failing to make the play-offs in 2016, the team parted ways with GM John Doyle after eight years in the role. The Earthquakes went on to hire Jesse Fioranelli from Roma.
With the Earthquakes struggling in 2017, Kinnear was fired in June and replaced by Chris Leitch. They won enough games down the stretch to make the play-offs as the number six seed, but they were blown out 5-0 at Vancouver in the knockout round. The highlight of the season came in the US Open Cup with wins over Seattle Sounders and LA Galaxy to reach the semi-finals. In Kansas City, they lost 5-4 on penalties due to a rare miss by Wondolowski.
Mikael Stahre was hired as manager for the 2018 season as Leitch returned to his role as technical director. They added Magnus Eriksson from Sweden and brought in JT Marcinkowski from Georgetown University. Stahre was fired before the season ended and San Jose won just four games all season.
Matias Almeyda was hired from Mexican side Guadalajara to manage the Earthquakes in 2019. San Jose missed the play-offs by four points with another losing record. The highlight of the campaign was Wondolowski scoring four goals on May 18 against Chicago Fire to break Donovan's all-time MLS goals record.
The 2020 season was interrupted by COVID-19 and included the MLS is Back Tournament, which was played in Orlando in July. In the tournament, San Jose won twice and drew once to win their group with seven points. In the last 16, they beat Real Salt Lake 5-2 as Eriksson scored twice, but they lost to Minnesota United 4-1 in the quarter-finals. San Jose then finished the MLS regular season with three straight wins to snag the final play-off spot in the West. In the MLS Cup play-offs at Kansas City, Wondolowski tied the game in the 97th minute, but San Jose lost 3-0 on penalties.
San Jose Earthquakes' rivals
The San Jose Earthquakes have two major rivals: LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders.
The rivalry with the Galaxy is called the California Clasico and dates back to the beginning of MLS. It sees Southern California battle Northern California and the teams have played more than 70 MLS games plus 10 play-off matches. The Galaxy hold a 32-26 lead in MLS games with 16 draws, and they have won five play-off games with one draw. Los Angeles also have had four wins in the six games between the teams in the US Open Cup. However, the Earthquakes beat the Galaxy in the 2001 MLS Cup final, the highest-profile match-up between the two teams.
The Earthquakes and Sounders play for the Heritage Cup, which began in 2009. Seattle have won the cup eight times since then, with San Jose prevailing in 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2015. Seattle eliminated San Jose from the 2012 and 2014 US Open Cups while San Jose beat Seattle in the 2017 US Open Cup. The teams tied in the 2020 MLS is Back Tournament.
San Jose Earthquakes' top players
Chris Wondolowski holds nearly every franchise record with 162 goals in 344 appearances heading into the 2021 season. Landon Donovan scored 32 goals in his four seasons with San Jose, which is surpassed only by Wondolowski and Ronald Cerritos with 61. Dwayne De Rosario (27) and Brian Ching (25) round out the top-five goalscorers in team history.
Shea Salinas holds the team record with 48 assists, one more than Cerritos. Richard Montgomery had 44 helpers, while Wondoloski enters the 2021 season with 40. Former USMNT player Eddie Lewis had 35 assists from 1996-99 and ranks fifth.
Goalkeeper Joe Cannon ranks behind Wondolowski, Salinas (292) and Ramiro Corrales (225) in games played with 171. He holds the team record with 44 clean sheets, eight more than Jon Busch.
Some of the Designated Players to have played for the Earthquakes include Geovanni from Brazil, Matias Perez Garcia from Argentina and Innocent Emeghara from Switzerland. Wondolowski was also a D.P. from 2013-19 along with Sweden's Magnus Eriksson in 2018 and Georgia's Valeri Kazaishvili from 2017-20. The current D.P. is Argentina's Cristian Espinoza, who was signed from Villarreal in 2020.
USMNT forward Eric Wynalda led the Clash in their first seasons and other USMNT players like Jeff Agoos and Bobby Convey have also played for San Jose.