A dramatic weekend of FA Cup results left an indelible mark on the overall strength of some Premier League sides. Notably, Liverpool's rollercoaster season continued after an embarassing 3-2 loss to League One side Oldham. Such improbable results shape the tournament's excitement. 2012 Champions League holders Chelsea almost fell victim to Liverpool's fate. If it wasn't for a Fernando Torres equalizer, Chelsea's interim manager Rafa Benitez would probably have seen his last match in charge of the Blues.
Matches of the Week:
Arsenal vs. Liverpool: Wednesday, January 30, 11:45 a.m. PST, Emirates Stadium
Arsenal's title tilt may be finally turning in its favor. Sitting in sixth place, the Gunners put the finishing touches on London rivals West Ham last weekend with an emphatic 5-1 victory. French hitman Olivier Giroud's left-foot keeps on getting better. Giroud bagged a brace against West Ham and added another in this past week's FA Cup action.
Could Arsene Wenger finally have refined his team into that reminiscent of 2003 and 2004? Maybe. A lot of question marks still remain for an inconsistent, yet offensively appealing side. To the delight of the Arsenal faithful, Theo Walcott has re-signed and looks to maintain his scoring streak.
Liverpool's inconsistency, though, knows no bounds. The verdict is still out on Brendan Rodgers' philosopy and methodology to return the club back to prominence despite the Barcelona-esque soccer he employed at Swansea last year (often dubbed Swanselona). The mercurial Luis Suarez has been a seldom golden light for the Reds. Suarez has bagged 16 Premier League goals but the club still sits in seventh place on 34 points, three points behind Arsenal.
Liverpool has yet to beat a side above them in the 2012/13 Premier League season and this week's encounter at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium may not be the most welcoming place to start.
With both teams firing on all cylinders and managers preaching a free-flowing ideology, goals may come aplenty for both sides.
Fulham vs. West Ham: Wednesday, January 30, 12:00 p.m. PST, Craven Cottage
An appetizing London derby between Fulham and West Ham, sitting in the 14th and 12th positions respectively, may paint a better picture of the ominous relegation battle looming over both sides. A mere two points seperate Fulham and West Ham (25 and 27 respectively).
Fulham's 2012/13 form has yet to mirror that of the previous season. The loss of Clint Dempsey to Tottenham may be partially to blame but the paucity of goalscorers and creativity may be more at fault. The addition of Man United's want-away Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov would have been perceived to add a certain elegance to the Cottagers' goal-scoring chances. With only seven goals in the Premier League, Berbatov is still seeking the form that catapulted him to Man United. Fulham will introduce Emmanuel Frimpong, a young Arsenal midfielder now on-loan to the Cottagers, against West Ham. The move will be mutually beneficial for both parties; Frimpong will gain experience for Arsenal's sake, and Fulham should see heightened team performances.
Big Sam Allardyce holds the reigns for a gritty West Ham side looking to maintain their survival in the top-flight. Recent acquisition and former West Ham youth product Joe Cole will add his veteran abilities to a predominantly English side. The forecast appears bright for West Ham despite the 5-1 drubbing from Arsenal last week. At an enviable 12th place in the table, West Ham will continue to seek points in whatever way possible.
Man City vs. Liverpool: Sunday, February 3, 8:00 a.m. PST, Etihad Stadium
Liverpool's tough week will conclude at nearby Etihad Stadium. Two wins, against Arsenal and City, may be the catalyst that both the Kop and Brendan Rodgers need to not only surge players' confidence but to execute the team's vision.
City will also see their second match of the week. City travel to QPR on Tuesday, Jan. 29 to face a new-look side now under the guidance of relegation specialist Harry Redknapp. Considering City's depth, many would expect City to walk away with the three points. Manchester's "noisy neighbors" have won their past three Premier League matches including beating Arsenal 2-0 and a resolute Stoke City side 1-0.
Should Liverpool find a way to claim two wins over the week, Brendan Rodgers' efforts may have finally come to fruition. Based on past results for the Reds this year, City should be triumphant and Roberto Mancini's side will continue their focus on retaining the Premier League crown.
Quakes' General Manager John Doyle has been placed on the National Soccer Hall of Fame ballot for the class of 2013. Voting will conclude on Feb. 22 and the results will be announced shortly thereafter.
Doyle has had an esteemed soccer career as both a player and now as an executive. An All-America honoree at the University of San Francisco, Doyle would go on to establish himself as a model soccer professional in the 1980's and 1990's. The defender played for the San Francisco BlackHawks, the then-San Jose Clash, and the San Jose Earthquakes. Doyle would make his final appearance for the Quakes in 2000.
A veteran of the U.S. Men's National Team, Doyle represented the Red, White, and Blue in the 1990 FIFA World Cup and earned 53 full international caps for his country.
As illustrious as his playing career was, Doyle has led his former team to new heights from an executive standpoint. The Quakes' General Manager was integral in assembling the 2012 team that put together a franchise-best record of 19-6-9 and won their second Supporters' Shield trophy.
To read the full story about John Doyle and the voting, click here.
By all accounts, Quakes' forward sensation Chris Wondolowski has arrived late to the scene.
The soon-to-be 30-year-old has endured trials and tribulations to embrace his past three seasons. Drafted in Round 4 of the 2005 Supplemental Draft by the Quakes, Wondo managed a meager five minutes in his first campaign.
With the team's relocation to Houston, he played in 37 total MLS regular season games and netted four goals. Fast-forward to the three-year span from 2010 to 2012 and a national-team caliber striker has emerged.
Wondolowski's past three seasons have seen him score a record 61 goals in 90 MLS games for the Quakes. The awards have followed: three MLS Best XI's, two Golden Boot awards, and one Volkswagen MLS MVP award (2012).
Such a prolific scoring record has yet to translate into international success. Wondolowski is currently with the U.S. Men's National Team for their January camp and, under the watchful eye of head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, is eager to add his scoring prowess. With only eight caps to his name, Wondo is looking for another come the Jan. 29 friendly against Canada at Houston's BBVA Compass Stadium.
Both Klinsmann and Wondolowski discuss the current state of the January camp as well as Wondolowski's future ambitions with the team. Read the full story here.
Wondo joins Soccer Matters Podcast:
Chris Wondolowski's past three years have been nothing short of sensational. The Quakes' forward led his 2010 and 2012 teams to the MLS Cup playoffs as well as the 2012 Supporters' Shield.
On an individual level, Wondolowski's predatory instincts have been lethal. The Danville, CA native has registered 61 league goals in 90 MLS regular season matches in the past three years, an MLS record. The 2012 campaign, in particular, saw Wondo net a league-tying record of 27 goals. Such firepower earned Wondo a spot on the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star squad, the 2012 Budweiser Golden Boot, and the 2012 Volkswagen MLS MVP award.
Wondo is now training with the U.S. Men's National Team ahead of the team's friendly against Canada on Jan. 29 at Houston's BBVA Compass Stadium.
Wondo joined the Soccer Matters podcast to discuss his success and his expectations for the seasons ahead. To listen to the podcast, click here.
Wondolowski and Omar Gonzalez discuss U.S. Men's National Team Camp:
The Quakes predatory finisher, along with the LA Galaxy's central defender Omar Gonzalez, took a break from training to discuss the progress of the U.S. Men's National Team January camp.
See the full video here.
Quakes' right back Steven Beitashour has returned to San Jose after picking up an injury at the U.S. Men's National Team Camp in Carson, CA.
Beitashour, entering his fourth year with the Quakes, had his best year to date in 2012. The wing back started 33 matches, registered 2955 total minutes, and netted six assists to help the Quakes' hoist their second Supporters' Shield trophy.
Beitashour's injury will require him to return to San Jose for further evaluation. The San Jose-native played through a sports hernia for the latter half of the 2012 season that ultimately required surgery.
Quakes' forward and 2012 Volkswagen MLS MVP Chris Wondolowski and 2012 All-Star defender Justin Morrow are still with the U.S. Men's National Team ahead of their Jan. 29 friendly against Canada at Houston's BBVA Compass Stadium.
For the full report on Beitashour's injury, click here.
Quakes President Dave Kaval will join other Bay Area sporting executives as well as entrepreneurs and practitioners to lead a panel discussion about the perpetually changing In-Stadium sports experience. The talk, "The Reinvention of the In-Stadium Experience", will open at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 300 California Street, Suite 500, San Francisco, CA.
A crucial component of the fan experience, stadiums are adapting their designs to maximize enjoyment for their team's followers. With the Quakes' new stadium set to open in 2014, San Jose's President Dave Kaval has devoted significant time to evaluating and analyzing stadium designs for the benefit of the Quakes' faithful. San Jose's new stadium will feature state-of-the-art entertainment amenities while maintaining an intimate experience.
After hoisting the 2012 Supporters' Shield, the 2013 Quakes will play their final season at Buck Shaw. All the while, Dave Kaval and staff will be working fastidiously to perfect the Quakes' soccer-specific stadium.
For the full story on the panel discussion, click here.
David Kaval: President, San Jose Earthquakes (MLS). Co-founder, Golden Baseball League.
Chip Bowers: Chief Marketing Officer, Golden State Warriors. Former Senior VP, Orlando Magic and Seattle SuperSonics.
Bill Crockett: Director of Sports Architecture, AECOM. Has been the architect of record for NBA, NFL, NCAA, and Olympic stadiums and arenas.
Evan Owens: Co-founder and CEO, Pogoseat (innovative mobile app for live-event seat upgrades)
6:00 – 6:15 Pregame: Snacks, drinks, networking (maybe some stretching)
6:15 – 7:05 Game: Panel: “The Reinvention of the In-stadium Experience” followed by Q&A
7:05 – 8:00 Postgame: Networking, drinks, and football playoff's chatter!
Morrow and Beitashour at USMNT Camp
The U.S. Men's National Team's January camp is in full stride. A majority of MLS stars supplemented with young players plying their trade abroad compose the roster. Two Quakes in particular, Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow, are proving to be inseperable around the Carson, CA training grounds.
San Jose's two offensive-minded wing backs are seeking their first full international cap ahead of the U.S. Men's National team match against Canada on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at Houston's BBVA Compass Stadium. Coming off of stellar MLS campaigns, the two 25-year-olds were instrumental in leading the Quakes to a franchise-best record of 19-6-9 and the club's second Supporters' Shield. Both participated against Chelsea FC in the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star game.
With the Quakes' 2013 preseason officially beginning on Monday, Jan. 21, Beitashour and Morrow look to pick up where they left off in 2012. Now under the national team spotlight, Morrow's and Beitashour's stock continue to rise for a San Jose team that is eager to hoist the MLS Cup.
For the full story on Morrow and Beitashour, read here.
The 2013 MLS SuperDraft has come and gone and may have left MLS fans wanting more. Yet, the Quakes accomplished what they set out to. The 2012 Supporters' Shield winners entered the SuperDraft with two picks and utlized them both; picking standout Georgetown defender Tommy Muller and crafty left-footed University of San Diego midfielder Dan Delgado. While neither of these players were in Indianapolis, the two rookies enter the Goonies family with high hopes and aspirations.
Muller, a 5-foot-11 central defender, captained a Georgetown squad to unchartered territory - the program's first appearance in the NCAA College Cup final. The Altamonte Springs, Fla native was a three-year starter for the Hoyas, scoring four goals and recording four assists in 64 career appearances. His senior year efforts earned him a place on the All-Big East Third Team.
Similarly, Delgado arrives to the Bay Area with accolades abound from his efforts at the University of San Diego. Guided under the tutelage of the tenured USD head coach Seamus McFadden, Delgado took the West Coast Conference by storm, netting 15 goals and bagged 23 assists in 72 total appearances. His senior year was even more memorable; notching nine goals and 10 assists while being named to the NSCAA All-Far West Region First Team and leading his squad 2012 NCAA College Cup Quarterfinals.
Reflections on the SuperDraft have been widespread and altogether incongruent. While Muller and Delgado may not have earned the national recognition that some of the other draftees have, these two might parallel the 2010 SuperDraft "steals" that became 2012 MLS AT&T All-Stars Justin Morrow and Steven Beitashour. The Quakes added depth, intelligence, work rate, and skill with these two picks ahead of an elongated season that will include CONCACAF Champions League matches.
TopDrawerSoccer.com ranked the Earthquakes' draft day with the overall grade of a "B". Yet, the grade is one of the highest in the Western Conference. To see the complete list, click here.
WVHooligan.com also gave the Quakes a "B" ranking, in most part due to the strength of the returning nucleus of players. WVHooligan.com's full rankings are listed here.
Indianapolis will play host to the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, beginning at 8:54 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17. The Quakes hold three picks in the draft: number 15, number 33, and number 34. Speculation has started to swirl around teams' upcoming decsions, especially Toronto F.C. who sits with the first pick.
While the Earthquakes are coming off their best regular season in franchise history, culminating with the club's second Supporters' Shield, the Quakes have traditionally used their picks to cultivate talent.
Media outlets have embarked on the typical practice of mock drafts. With six Generation Adidas prospects participating in this year's MLS Combine and all expected to be drafted in the first round, the majority of college seniors will fall late.
SoccerByIves Mock Draft:
Soccerbyives.net's latest mock draft has the Quakes utilizing all three picks; selecting West Virginia centerback Eric Schoenle, Creighton's attacking midfielder Jose Gomez, and New Mexico's forward Devon Sandoval. To find the entire mock draft, click HERE.
TheDailyWiz analyzes some of the sleepers that fell to the 31st pick and beyond in past drafts. As the Quakes hold number 33 and number 34, teams have found success drafting players late. These players have included Omar Cummings, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, and Nick LaBrocca. Read the full story HERE.
SJEarthquakes.com sat down with long-time season ticket holder Rober Blackburn to hear his insight on all things Quakes. The Bay Area resident spoke about his time as an Quakes fan, the benefits of being a season ticket holder, and the success of the Goonies in the seasons ahead.
When did you become a fan of the Earthquakes?
I moved to the Bay Area in 2001. I went to the Western Conference Finals in 2003 against the Kansas City Wizards. The Quakes beat the Wizards 3-2 in overtime and I had a great time. I had a friend take me to a few games in 2005 as he was a season ticket holder. The World Cup came out in high definition in 2006 but the Quakes had moved to Houston by that time. Once they came back in 2008, I became a season ticket holder and have been one ever since.
What was your favorite Quakes’ moment?
My favorite Earthquakes moment was Steven Lenhart's winning header against Seattle this past August, 2012. We had played well and led 1-0, but they [Seattle] put in 3 difference makers for the equalizer in stoppage. For us [San Jose] to come back immediately and win with just seconds left was a big statement, and something very special and very rare in soccer.
What was your favorite Earthquakes’ game?
My favorite Earthquakes game was Aug. 3, 2008 when [David] Beckham and the Galaxy played the Quakes at the Oakland Coliseum. The Quakes went up 2-0, and the Galaxy came back to tie it. Ryan Cochrane scored the go-ahead goal with a couple minutes left to give the Quakes the 3-2 victory. Long-story short, Beckham hated to lose. He walked over to the sideline after the game and handed his jersey to my daughter. We have framed it along with the tickets. It was a great experience.
What have been some of the benefits of being a Season Ticket Holder?
During my first couple years as a season ticket holder, we got nice blue portraits and could get everyone’s autograph. I really liked that a lot. I am a VIP season ticket holder and the game day experience with the food and parking is great. I love the game experience as a whole and the VIP package.