We're a spoiled bunch in the Bay Area.
The World Cup is less than one month away and the United States is training in our backyard for the next two weeks as they prepare for the first game in their Send-Off Series, a May 27 date with Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park (7 p.m. PT / ESPN2, WatchESPN, Unimas).
For soccer aficionados, it doesn't get much better than that. We'll be rubbing elbows with Jurgen Klinsmann & team as they get ready for the biggest soccer event in the world. Even better, the San Jose Earthquakes have a pair of fan-favorites vying for coveted spots on the USA's 23-man roster for Brazil.
Local and national media alike were on hand for the Americans' first training session in the Bay Area on Wednesday, a return to Stanford Stadium. Here's a glance at some of the coverage from The Farm:
Earthquakes defender has joined the grassroots Say No To Racism movement popularized by FC Barcelona defender Dani Alves’ banana-eating incident on April 27.
Bernardez posted a photo of himself eating a banana on Instagram with the caption, “SAY NO TO RACISM.” The 2014 FIFA World Cup bound center back from Honduras was inspired by Alves to post the image.
“I was watching the match with Barcelona versus Villareal when someone threw the banana at Dani Alves,” Bernardez said. “Honestly, it was unsettling to watch. This should not exist in modern soccer.
“Today’s soccer world is different now – it’s better than that. Racism needs to be eradicated and it’s a joy to see footballers from across the world, such as Alves and Neymar, stand up for the cause that this will not be tolerated. It’s an inspirational movement.”
Following the 3-2 win against Villareal, Barcelona teammate Neymar posted a photo on social media of himself eating a banana. Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero followed suit with Brazilian women’s national team star Marta and the movement continued to pick up steam.
Bernardez says the response he’s received has been overwhelmingly positive. Fans and teammates – past and present – have voiced their support and even joined the movement.
“It has all been positive feedback,” he said. “My Honduran teammates have written me saying they’ve been influenced to spread the message and take similar photos. The movement is catching the world by storm. A simple picture shows the world that we as athletes will not tolerate racism and we are all equal. We are all brothers and sisters and we need to show each other respect.”
Go on, Big Vic.
The San Jose Earthquakes reported to camp over the weekend for team physicals and fitness testing. They’ll be at the field today to begin ball work and continue their preparation ahead of the team’s first preseason trip in Tucson next week.
Keep an eye out for coverage from a number of local media outlets. KGO-TV and Comcast SportsNet will each be at training today as well as reporters from the Mercury News, ESPN.com, MLSsoccer.com and Centerlinesoccer.com. Also, rookie midfielder JJ Koval will be on KRON4 News with Gary Radnich tonight at 6:40 p.m. PT.
Here’s a glance at what the roster looks like at the moment:
GOALKEEPERS (4) – David Bingham, Jon Busch, *Billy Knutsen, Bryan Meredith.
DEFENDERS (12) – ^Javier Alvial, Brandon Barklage, Victor Bernardez, *Devante Dubose, Shaun Francis, Clarence Goodson, ^Andreas Gorlitz, Ty Harden, Jason Hernandez, Tommy Muller, *Joe Sofia, Jordan Stewart.
MIDFIELDERS (12) – Cordell Cato, *A.J. Corrado, Sam Cronin, Sam Garza, ^Tishan Hanley, Atiba Harris, *JJ Koval, Walter Martinez, Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi, Shea Salinas, Tommy Thompson, ^Gustavo Zamudio
FORWARDS (6) – Mike Fucito, Alan Gordon, Adam Jahn, Steven Lenhart, Billy Schuler, Chris Wondolowski.
*Unsigned 2014 MLS SuperDraft pick
Who's the best team in Major League Soccer since mid-June? Fact: It's the San Jose Earthquakes.
Mark Watson is 10-5-2 since taking over as the club's interim head coach on June 7. That translates to a 1.88 points per-game average, well ahead of the current Supporters' Shield leaders.
Here's a glance at what the standings look like since Watson's arrival.
|San Jose Earthquakes||32||10-5-2||1.88|
|Seattle Sounders FC||30||9-7-3||1.58|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC||29||8-6-5||1.53|
|Real Salt Lake||25||7-5-4||1.56|
|Sporting Kansas City||30||9-5-3||1.76|
|New York Red Bulls||28||8-4-4||1.75|
|New England Revolution||25||7-7-4||1.39|
*Editor's note: Standings reflect matches starting on June 15, Watson's first gameday as interim head coach
Did you know: Last night was amazing?
One stellar goal, three points and a clean sheet – got that. Here are a few more reasons why you should remember last night's 1-0 win against the Philadelphia Union:
- Jason Hernandez (12,238) surpassed Wade Barrett (12,218) for No. 5 on the club’s all-time minutes played
- Chris Wondolowski tied club Hall of Famer Troy Dayak for No. 9 on San Jose’s all-time appearance list with his 129th
- #Marchto200: San Jose is one win away from No. 200 in club history
- Jon Busch recorded his 72nd career clean sheet, one away from Matt Reis for No. 5 on the all-time MLS list
- Most importantly, San Jose's 16 corner kicks set a new club record (previous: 15 vs. LA on Aug. 26, 2000 and vs. Chivas USA on May 13, 2012)
We all know that Chris Wondolowski is a goal-scorer, an all-around good guy and an aspiring rapper. But I don't think people totally understand exactly how vital his gluttonous goal-scoring romp has been to the San Jose Earthquakes.
Here's a look at the MLS all-time top-five list for game-winning goals:
- Jeff Cunningham – 40 in 365 games
- Landon Donovan – 35 in 295 games
- Ante Razov – 33 in 262 games
- Jason Kreis – 31 in 305 games
- Chris Wondolowski – 30 in 162 games
On average, the top four on the list have played in about 307 games apiece. Wondo has nearly half that number of appearances, and he didn't have a single game-winning goal in his first 45 career MLS games. That means The Human Goal Magnet has racked up 30 game winners in his last 117 games – roughly one every four games.
Looking deeper into the stats, you'll find that 30 of Wondogolowski's 71 goals in San Jose have been game winners. In fact, since arriving via midseason trade from the Houston Dynamo in 2009, he's has netted the winner in 30 of the Earthquakes' 53 victories.
Efficient. Clutch. The next American Idol. Vote Wondo for President of the United States come 2016.
The San Jose Earthquakes weren't the only winners on Saturday. The club raised $10,500 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation thanks to the third annual A&W Root Beer Float Night.
The amount raised set a new club record for the event. Combine that with San Jose's 1-0 win against Seattle Sounders FC, and it was one successful night.
And, in case you missed it, here is a hilarious outtakes reel from our A&W Root Beer Float Night promo video. Enjoy!
The race for the final spot in the Earthquakes' CONCACAF Champions League group could be decided as early as Sunday.
Guatemalan Apertura winner Comunicaciones weathered the road leg of their semifinal with a 1-1 result against Marquense on Wednesday. Barring an upset, that would mean that the winner of Heredia-Halcones FC would join the Earthquakes and Montreal Impact in Group 5.
Halcones FC took a 2-0 lead at home last night. While that might seem like a significant margin, Heredia won't feel like they're too far behind come Sunday; the squad is 7-0-2 at home during the Clausura, including a 5-0 drubbing of Halcones FC on May 19. Apparently trips to Estadio del Monte on the Caribbean side of Guatemala are a daunting task.
For a full list of results from Guatemala, click here.
Saturday was another memorable day at the office for the Earthquakes what with another Goonie moment courtesy of Sam Cronin(ja) & Co. However, the most touching storyline goes to Marcus Tracy making his MLS debut after more than three years away from first team competition.
The former Hermann Trophy winner at Wake Forest took his game to Aalborg BK out of college, but knee injuries forced his career to take a detour. In fact, his last first team appearance came on Dec. 5, 2009 in a 2-0 Aalborg loss against Sonderjyske (he did make a handful of reserve appearances in 2010).
Count it up and Tracy's 76th-minute substitution for Marvin Chavez was his first senior team appearance in 1,246 days or 3 years, 4 months and 29 days. In other words, the last time he suited up, President Barack Obama was wrapping up Year 1 in his new house, iPads had yet to hit the market and, fortunately, Bieber Fever wasn't quite a thing yet.
Tweet at this guy and welcome him back: @MarcusGTracy.
The accolades (?) keep coming for Earthquakes mascot Q and UFC fighter Luke Rockhold. This morning, the duo received co-No. 1 honors in ESPN SportsCenters' Not Top 10 for their "Mascot Hit in the Groin by Soccer Ball" affair from last weekend's ceremonial first goal.
The video is up against New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and his infamous "Butt Fumble" for Worst of the Worst. To vote, follow this link and click "SportsCenter: Worst of the Worst" on the left column.