Who's ready for a road trip?
The Earthquakes are on their way to their second home aka the Central Coast on Saturday. On tap is a match against the Chicago Fire at UC Santa Barbara's Harder Stadium at 6 p.m. PT (BUY TICKETS).
Now, as a Cal Poly grad I have biased opinions about UC Santa Barbara. That being said, they know how to do soccer on the Central Coast (See: Blue-Green Rivalry and fans storming the field). And, a drive down the 101 to CenCal isn't exactly torture.
If you are planning to make the trip, here's a few tips to keep in mind (and, if you want a more Santa Barbara-slanted perspective, be sure to Tweet @SamGarza17):
Lodging: Travelzoo has this deal available in Los Osos ($159 for one night, dinner and a bottle of wine). Los Osos is west of San Luis Obispo and tacks on an extra 40 minutes of total travel, but you're right on the coast and close to a popular tourist spot, Morro Bay.
Other spots worth considering include: San Luis Obispo (1 hour, 30 minutes from UCSB), Pismo Beach (1 hour, 20 minutes from UCSB) or Solvang (45 minutes from UCSB). If you're thinking about Pismo Beach, also take a look at Avila Beach; it's a hidden gem about 10 minutes north of Pismo.
Food: Two words: tri-tip. The Central Coast does beef and you can be sure if you stop at Firestone's in San Luis Obispo, you'll be back.
San Luis Obispo - Firestone Grill (get the tri-tip sandwich and a side of fries, thank me later), Pizza Solo (the best pie in town and the Solo Stix are on point), Louisa's Place (breakfast spot in Downtown SLO with big portions and plenty to choose from)
Pismo Beach - Splash Cafe (famous for its clam chowder), Del's Italian Restaurant (actually located in Shell Beach, sit-down spot with lasagna that rivals any mom's home cooking), F. McClintock's Saloon & Dining House (steakhouse in Shell Beach with the most talented wait staff in the Golden State)
Sunday Adventures: On your way back to the Bay, make sure to drop by at least one of the aforementioned eateries and check out the outdoor scene. Inspiration Point in Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach, Morro Rock, Hearst Castle, Bishop's Peak in San Luis Obispo - you can pull of the road just about anywhere and find something worth laying eyes on.
It wasn't a dream start for the U.S., but let's slow down on the doomsday scenarios. Life on the road in the Hex ain't easy.
In case you missed the match, here's a snapshot courtesy of US Soccer. Included is that unreal bicycle kick from Juan Carlos Garcia (a play that originated with Earthquakes defender Victor Bernardez).
It's that time again, soccer fans.
By the end of World Cup Qualification, there will undoubtedly be more Americans rocking a Michael Bradley hairdo than ever before - either as an iconic tribute or a sign of the grueling process that is hexagonal play.
It all kicks off in Honduras at Estadio Olimpico today (1 p.m. PT / beIN Sport). Earthquakes fans will recognize one familiar face suiting up: center back Victory Bernardez.
No idea what the hex entails? What should the U.S. expect in San Sula? Need some insight as to why Hondurans love Jonathan Bornstein?
KICKTV has all of that and more in a brilliantly produced match preview. Check it out!
As a March Madness maniac, I was ecstatic when I heard that Gus Johnson aka My Passion Bucket is Full (See: Passion Bucket) was signing on to broadcast a few Earthquakes games over the radio in 2012.
Not to gush, but the guy is a living legend in my circle. If I scored a game-winning three to win an NCAA Championship, I would want Gus on the call. No play-by-play brings more energy to a game. Nobody.
That's why I was thrilled to see Sports Illustrated's report today that Gus is being groomed to be Fox's voice of the World Cup in 2018. Even as a soccer rookie in the booth last season, you could see glimmers of what the guy is capable of.
"Game tied at one ... Chavez, trying to maneuver on the far touchline ... still handling ... left foot ... cross, Lenhart - OH AND HE HEADS IT IN!"
Sign me up for some Gus Johnson in 2018. Rise and fire.
Simon Dawkins has completed a late-night loan move to the end of the season from Tottenham. #AVFC
— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) January 31, 2013
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) January 31, 2013
It's official: Simon Dawkins will join Aston Villa on loan for the remainder of the English Premier League season.
Obviously, this isn't the news Earthquakes fans wanted to hear. However, this doesn't completely shut the door on a future move. In theory, Dawkins could still make a permanent move stateside after the EPL season ends.
Dawkins scored 14 goals and three in 53 appearances - largely as a left midfielder - for the Earthquakes in two seasons.
There weren't a lot of familiar faces on the field for San Jose's 2-0 win against the Houston Dynamo on Tuesday, but a pair of goals from Alexandre Emerson left fans scramling to track down details about the mystery trialist.
Emerson is actually a San Jose native. He left for Mexico when he was 13, suiting up for Chivas before settling in with Necaxa.
You can check out Emerson's finishes in the highlights above. Other players appearing in the reel include: Adam Jahn (first shot), Evan Newton (first save), Tommy Muller (blocked shot), Matt Fondy (goal called back), Jesus Guzman (second-half goalkeeper) and Jacob Hustedt (drew penalty).
The Earthquakes will be well represented in Houston tonight when the U.S. Men's National Team faces a young Canadian squad at BBVA Compass Stadium (6 p.m. PT / ESPN2).
Forward Chris Wondolowski is aiming to make his ninth cap while left back Justin Morrow hopes to earn his first. Not that we're biased over here at sjearthquakes.com, but we've penciled both into our starting XI prediction (see below).
In case you need a bit more backgorund info going into the match, we've got some links for you:
Now, about that un-biased lineup prediction. Here's what I've got (feel free to chime in with your choices):
One week ago, our country was shocked and overcome with grief as details of a tragedy in Newtown, Conn. came to light.
As Washington Post soccer writer Steve Goff reported today, the news was especially significant to Earthquakes forward Marcus Tracy. The former Wake Forest product grew up in Newtown and his mother used to teach at the elementary school where 26 people were shot and killed on Friday, Dec. 14.
Tracy, his brother and a group of friends decided they wanted to do something to represent their community and pay tribute to those who lost their lives. They produced an original song and tribute that you can see above. Tracy also emailed sjearthquakes.com the following statement:
“When CNN first stated how many people lost their lives, it was complete shock and disbelief. It was unfathomable to think that this happened in the same town I lived in for 18 years, two miles away, at the school my Mom once taught at. It's still hard to believe. It's a very real reminder whenever I leave the house and see all of the media, police from out of town and out of state, the volume of traffic; it’s amazing, though, to see how the town has come together to uplift those most affected by the tragedy. It hurts you as a resident of Newtown that something like this could happen, so just try and imagine how parents, brothers, sisters and spouses are feeling right now. You can't; it's impossible. After days of grieving and trying to comprehend what the hell happened, me and a few friends got together to think about what we could do to help uplift this town and its people. So I turned to one of the only things (besides soccer) that I know and love: music.
I produce music as a hobby and have a production team with my brother and my friend, Anthony Santella. My brother is in Boston, so me and Anthony led the way. We produced the entire song together, but brought in a few of our other friends and created this video/picture montage tribute.
It was therapeutic for us, but also a means, we felt, to represent our town. Right now the whole world knows the town Newtown, CT for one reason only. But Newtown means something much more to each one of us. This is the only way we knew how to speak back to the community and the world that, yes, we were hit hard and suffered great loss, but we will bounce back. And also our way of recognizing and lifting up the 26 people who needlessly lost their lives that day."
The club's collective thoughts are with Marcus and Newtown during this holiday season.
Does it get any better than a seven-goal, multi-comeback California Clasico?
According to MLSsoccer.com, it doesn't. San Jose's 4-3 win against the LA Galaxy on June 30 at Stanford Stadium was the pick for Best Game of 2012. The match featured a pair of rallies - LA from 1-0 down to take a 3-1 lead and San Jose from 3-1 down to win 4-3 - as well as goals from some of the most recognizable faces in the league: Landon Donovan, David Beckham and, of course, Chris Wondolowski.
In a year filled with memorable games (aka Goonie moments), the stunner at Stanford Stadium tops the charts. However, let the debate begin for which game was second best.
Was it Steven Lenhart's 'Blond-Haired Bedlam at Buck Shaw' against the Chicago Fire on July 28, Alan Gordon's header to knock off LA at The Home Depot Center on May 23 or maybe the stoppage-time thriller against Seattle Sounders FC on Aug. 11? Vote now!
Photo: Surveyors were on site Monday, another step as the club prepares to begin construction after the New Year.
The New Stadium blog will feature updates regarding the club's development project on Coleman Ave. Keep an eye out for Q&As, photos and breaking news about the facility. This week, SJEarthquakes.com features Part 2 of an interview with club president Dave Kaval about the latest new stadium developments.
SJEQ: One of the topics of discussion is the Supporters’ Section. You have been working with the club’s Supporters to finalize the design of this area – could you talk about the process and what decisions you’ve made?
DK: It’s been great. We worked with each of our different groups – the Ultras and the Casbah – to work on what they felt was the best set-up for them. I think one of the positives that came out of those discussions was to create a club area where our Supporters can congregate right on the pitch, adjacent to their seats and the stands, where they can have their own area to arrive early, make and set up tifo, enjoy their own food and beverage options and have their own clubhouse and place to hang out. That’s one of the unique pieces to our stadium and I think will really enhance the Supporters’ culture; it gives them their own space that they can use – with some guidelines – to really develop their group and membership. The section will be right in the end zone and will be a centerpiece for everyone in the stadium to see. We’re happy to have worked with our Supporters on that. It’s a bit derivative of what Sporting Kansas City has done, but I think the biggest difference is that ours will be all of the end zone as opposed to the corner.
SJEQ: You recently hired a project manager for the new stadium. What can you tell us about David Albert?
DK: He has a ton of experience in Silicon Valley and has worked with Santa Clara University, managing a number of their projects. He’s managed projects with Devcon, our construction partner. We’re thrilled to have him. There are so many moving pieces on this project – not even just with our own, but with the developments in the surrounding area; the office buildings, community soccer fields, all that stuff needs to be handled in an effective way and we’re confident David is the right person for the job.
SJEQ: You walked right into our next topic. What can you tell us about the commercial development project surrounding the stadium?
DK: I think one of the key things to keep in mind is that this isn’t just a soccer stadium. This is a redevelopment project for North San Jose where we’re creating sort of a gateway into San Jose from Santa Clara off Coleman Ave.; what a difference this place will be from the days when it was a tank factory, creating a beautiful 18,000-seat soccer stadium, four community soccer fields, our training complex, a really awesome development around the facilities with bars, restaurants and commercial development – we’re really proud to be spearheading this whole thing. Obviously, this massive project will occur in phases.
I think one of the key things to keep in mind is that this isn’t just a soccer stadium. This is a redevelopment project for North San Jose where we’re creating sort of a gateway into San Jose from Santa Clara off Coleman Ave.
SJEQ: Could you give fans an update regarding the community fields being built on the site?
DK: We’ve been working with Interstate Grading and Paving, the contractor for those fields, and have met with the City of San Jose. The project is in its design/development phase. They’re going to have four fields going in as well as a fieldhouse, restrooms and concessions. Each of the fields will be lit and they’ll be located next to our current training field. We will manage these fields once they’ve been built and our academy will train there, which is an added benefit. It’s a big development and an important one that shows the synergy between our stadium project and the community developments surrounding it.
SJEQ: What other events do you expect to house at the new stadium?
DK: In terms of sporting events, rugby is one that we’re looking seriously at. We’ve looked at high school football and things of that nature. Obviously, the timing has to work out, but right now we’re focusing on laying out a schedule that would allow for these other events to come in while maintaining the playing surface for first team use. I also think there are opportunities for festivals and corporate events in the Epicenter. Over a dozen companies wanting to rent that area out for the hospitality or even for product launches have contacted me. I think that area will get even more use than we might have expected and so we need to be careful that we design the area to maximize use.
SJEQ: Speaking of corporations and the new stadium, where are we at in terms of naming rights?
DK: We’ve had in-depth meetings with the decision makers of a few Fortune 100 companies. We’re not ready to make an announcement yet, but we feel that we’ve made some great progress. There’s been more interest than we initially anticipated and we want to make sure that we partner with the right brand and find a partnership that furthers their marketing efforts while creating a great name for the new stadium – a win-win situation. These are long-term deals and so you have to make sure that you have the right partner and a partner that makes sense both for the team and the community.
SJEQ: The sales team has a unique bonus program while working through the seat selection queue. Could you shed a little insight on that program and why a certain ticket operations manager had to drop and give 10 push-ups at our last staff meeting?
DK: We have a cool incentive program built in for our sales reps that our vice president of sales Jared Shawlee put together where if you sell a seat, there’s a huge board with sticky notes; on the back of the note is a prize or a punk that you can play on your manager or director. For example, your manager might have to sing a song or do push-ups. It’s been a fun way to excite reps about the process. I think they’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time and our staff has a high morale around the stadium project, but this is another way to make things interesting and invoke the spirit of the Goonies.
SJEQ: Is there anything else you would like to share with fans about the process?
DK: Overall, we’re excited to be in the thick of things with this project. There’s a tremendous amount of work going into this on a daily basis. We have structure meetings where we’re working from pretty much dawn until dusk with 360 Architecture and Devcon Construction. Big decisions are being made each day. We’re meeting with subcontractors and working on that side of the equation. We’re focused on making sure this project is done right and that our fans have a great product in the end.