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.
Clint Dempsey named US Soccer “Male Athlete of the Year”:
The Nacogdoches attacker has had a memorable 2012. After recording six goals for the US Men’s National Team, including a memorable strike to beat Italy, Dempsey has received his third “Male Athlete of the Year” honor by US Soccer. Dempsey couldn’t stop scoring for club or country in 2012. The former Fulham hit-man left the club as its all-time leading Premier League scorer. In a much-publicized transfer saga, Dempsey switched to North London side Tottenham. Dempsey has three league goals for the Spurs who currently sit in fourth place in the Premier League table.
For more information on Dempsey’s award, click here.
Lionel Messi keeps scoring:
Ninety goals in a calendar year and still one more game to play. The diminutive Argentine saw Gerd Muller’s 40-year-old record of 85 goals and didn’t blink. Messi will lineup against Villadolid on Sat., Dec. 22 to conclude a historic goal-scoring year. FC Barcelona must also feel relieved to have secured Messi’s abilities for the long-term. Messi, Puyol, and Xavi all extended their stays with the only club that they have ever played for professionally. Messi signed until 2018 while Puyol and Xavi are now contracted until 2016. The 25-year-old Argentine has 25 La Liga goals in 16 games played this season as well as having netted 22 braces in the 2012 calendar year.
Find out more about Messi and Co. here.
Corinthians host Club World Cup:
The nightmare for Rafa Benitez can’t get any darker. After almost having successfully rejuvenated Fernando Torres’ career circa 2008, Benitez lost his most important game to date during his ever-increasingly short tenure as manager of Chelsea. Chelsea lost to Brazilian outfit Corinthians 1-0 and are still trophy-less after their dramatic 2012 Champions League title win.
For the full recap, click here.
Zenit St. Petersburg fan group demands all-white, heterosexual team:
The Landscrona, the largest fan group of Zenit St. Petersburg, has demanded that their team be composed strictly of white, heterosexual players. The blatantly intolerant mandate is somehow justified by the fan group that these players are “only worthy” of the great city of St. Petersburg. The comments have not come without ramifications. Manager Luciano Spalleti has reiterated his firm stance against such demands and has pledged to do everything in his power to increase tolerance among the fan base.
Read the full story here.
Man City denies rumors that it will buy MLS team:
Last week, rumors swirled that Man City was positioning itself to purchase an MLS expansion team in New York City. The Citizens have denied such claims even though the club looks to expand its brand stateside in a growing soccer market. City was reported to purchase a team for $100 million and then re-sell a minority portion to local investors. Among notable names involved in the possible deal was none other than David Beckham. The new team would’ve played out of Queens.
For more on this development, click here.
A weekly insight into local, national, and international soccer, “Anything but Quakes” previews the best matches of the week ahead.
Games of the Week:
Liverpool FC vs. Fulham FC, Sat. Dec. 22, 9:30 a.m. PST, Anfield
With the holiday season approaching, many set aside the time to reflect on the year past. The Barclay’s Premier League will reach its near midway point before the holiday break and finds that the usual suspects are at both the summit and the basement of the league standings.
If the 2011/2012 Premier League season would be any indication of team’s performances in the 2012/2013 season, the upcoming Liverpool FC vs. Fulham match at Anfield may take on more significance for European qualification than the current sides sitting in the 12th and 13th spots respectively.
Liverpool has undergone significant front office changes in recent years. John Henry and Tom Werner’s Fenway Sports Group purchased the famed club in October, 2010 and have set their sights on returning the club to the prominence it found in the 1970’s.
Former Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers now holds the reigns for the Merseysiders. Yet, he is still waiting to align the club’s on-field success with that of their ownership’s vision.
Saturday’s match against Fulham may be the inflection point for a team striving to break into the top four. Despite suffering a 3-1 loss at the hands of Aston Villa last Saturday, Liverpool must now re-group and prepare for the final months of the season.
Expect an open match between the two sides. Fulham’s refined Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov has a knack for taking advantage of opportunistic chances.
AS Roma vs. AC Milan, Sat. Dec. 22, 11:45 a.m. PST, Stadio Olimpico
Rome’s Stadio Olimpico will host the traditionally heralded matchup between two sides admittedly underperforming. AS Roma sits in sixth place and AC Milan are right behind them; two teams perennially fighting for not only a Champions League berth but the Serie A crown.
AC Milan’s performances to date have fluctuated as they try to find their offensive prowess. The loss of journeyman Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have left an indelible mark on their goal-scoring abilities. With rumors that Robinho may leave in January, Milan’s attack may be on a precipitous decline. Young Stephan El-Shaaarawy, though, has taken advantage of the opportunity left by Ibrahimovic’s exit. The Italian has tallied 14 goals in 17 Serie A games this season and is hungry for more.
Roma’s attack is once again spearheaded by an Italian presence. Pablo Daniel Osvaldo has recorded eight league strikes while forever young 36-year-old Francesco Totti has added six more.
Points will be crucial for these two sides as they fight for a place in Europe.
Manchester United vs. Swansea City, Sun. Dec. 23, 5:30 a.m. PST, Liberty Stadium
The “Swans” will host the matchup between first place Manchester United and the 10th place Welsh side. Michael Laudrup has helped Swansea pick up where Brendan Rodgers left them last year; embracing a dynamic brand of passing soccer commonly not found in the British Isles. Swansea may be playing some of the best soccer in the Premier League. Relatively unknown Spanish striker, Michu, has taken the league by storm. The former Rayo Vallecano has provided 12 league goals for Swansea and seems to do nothing wrong in the process. United will be led by Dutchman Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney. Although United are expected to walk away with three points, the Liberty Stadium has proven difficult for many away teams.
Real Madrid vs. Malaga, Sat. Dec. 22, 11 a.m. PST, Estadio La Rosaleda
Real Madrid are desperate to resurrect their winning ways. After a loss and a tie in their past two matches, Real Madrid sit in third place in the La Liga table; four points behind cross-town rivals Atletico and 13 points behind archrivals Barcelona. Add internal strife to the equation, a foreseeable managerial change in the coming weeks, and Real Madrid may be all but out as repeat league title contenders. Fourth place Malaga will be no easy team or place to play. The Champions League side has found a recipe of success through a motley crew of individuals. Madrid may be in for another surprise and, should Madrid not get a win, it may be the last match for Jose Mourinho.
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.
Busch accepts Heart of an Ultra award:
Jack’s Bar in San Jose played host to the 1906 Ultras’ award ceremony. The Earthquakes’ fanatics heaped praise on their entrusted leader between the pipes – Jon Busch. Busch, 36, was the recipient of the esteemed “Heart of an Ultra” award. The recognition personifies the desired commitment indicative of the impassioned fan group standing on the north side of Buck Shaw Stadium.
Busch, who habitually reciprocates his appreciation to the 1906 Ultras, was thankful for such an honor. “It means a lot,” Busch explained. “It is the icing on the cake when the fans accept you. You become one of them. It is a tremendous honor. “
Alan Black discusses the 1906 Ultras and Jon Busch’s award here:
Grantland honors the Quakes:
The Quakes storied 2012 season has seen the accompaniment of many postseason awards. As Jon Busch’s Heart of an Ultra explains, some are more sentimental than others.
Grantland’s Graham Parker honored the men in black and blue in yet another twist on the traditional awards banquet.
A full-throttle offensive attack left many teams in the Quakes’ wake in 2012. Franchise-bests of a 19-6-9 record and 72 goals placed a new benchmark for both the franchise’s and league’s history. As such, the Quakes were honored with “Team of the Year” by Parker.
The Quakes were also the recipients of, “Game of the Year”, commemorating the 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the LA Galaxy in front of 50,391 incredulous fans at Stanford Stadium. The match saw Wondolowski’s stunning back-heel strike, comebacks, off-the-ball-drama, and skirmishes.
Check out Graham Parker’s full story here:
2013 MLS Combine Preliminary Attendees announced:
MLS has released its list of preliminary attendees for the 2013 MLS Combine, set to take place Jan. 11-15. The tentative list only includes NCAA Division 1 seniors. Generation adidas players as well as select foreign players will be added at a later date.
Headlining the list of seniors are Big East stars Dillon Powers (Notre Dame), Ryan Finley (Notre Dame), and Carlos Alvarez (UConn). Each is predicted to be taken in the first round.
NCAA College Cup finalists Georgetown were the highest represented with three seniors receiving invites.
For the complete list of seniors named to the MLS Combine, click here:
Messi records number 86:
Lionel Messi can’t stop from scoring goals. His Barcelona team has 43 points out of a possible 45 and are comfortably positioned six points ahead of second-place Atletico Madrid. The FC Barcelona youth product, one of many from the renowned La Masia academy, netted his 22nd and 23rd league goals of the season against Real Betis over the weekend.
The brace moved Messi to the all-time scoring leader in a calendar year. His 86 goals passed Gerd Muller’s 40 year record of 85. Messi has now scored 76 goals for FC Barcelona in 2012 while also adding 12 for Argentina. With three more games left in 2012 for the Argentine, Messi may dive head-first into the 90’s.
For Messi’s reaction, click here:
A weekly insight into local, national, and international soccer, “Anything but Quakes” previews the best matches of the week ahead.
Game of the Week:
FC Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid: Sun. Dec. 16, 12 p.m. PST
This past weekend’s Manchester derby fell nothing short of the drama it promised. Robin van Persie’s 92nd minute free-kick, deflecting past a cheating Joe Hart, gave the Red Devils a 3-2 victory and a six point lead in the Premier League.
Meanwhile across the Celtic Sea, FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid strolled to another comfortable three points. Iconic strikers Lionel Messi and Radamel Falcao led their clubs, FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid respectively, to victory and maintained the first and second spots in La Liga.
The two South American strikers have been nothing short of sensational in the past calendar year. Messi’s brace on Sunday gave him 86 goals and cemented his position as the highest all-time scorer in a calendar year, one more than Gerd Muller’s 85. The 25-year-old Argentine has already netted 23 La Liga goals through 15 games and still has three games remaining to improve upon his record. The Colombian Falcao, named after the legendary AS Roma and Brazilian midfielder, has embraced his namesack's industriousness and netted a cool five goals against Deportivo La Coruna last weekend. He currently has 40 La Liga goals in 48 games.
FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou will play host to Sunday’s 12 p.m. PST matchup. Although Messi had an injury scare ahead of last week’s game, the Argentine and company look to be fully fit for the crucial matchup against Atletico. To many of their competitors’ envy, FC Barcelona sits on 43 points through 15 matches. Atletico trails with 37 points.
With Messi and Falcao firing on all cylinders, fans may be treated to an offensive exhibition.
Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Monchengladbach: Fri. Dec. 14, 11:30 a.m. PST
Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena will host this Bundesliga battle between top spot Bayern and eighth spot Monchengladbach. After 16 matches, Bayern is in the driver’s seat with 41 points. Croatian and Euro 2012 phenom Mario Mandzukic paces Bayern with nine goals.
Fulham vs. Queens Park Rangers: Sat. Dec. 15, 7: 00 a.m. PST
Queens Park Rangers are still in search of their first win of the season. Fulham earned a hard-fought 2-1 victory at the expense of a struggling Newcastle side on Monday. This London derby will either help propel Fulham back into their UEFA Cup ambition or start QPR’s ascension out of relegation
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lyon: Sun. Dec. 16, 12:00 p.m. PST
A battle between the number one and two teams in Ligue 1, Lyon vs. PSG should provide fireworks. Enigmatic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will once again try to lead the nation’s capitol to three points all the while attempting to secure the career of his under-fire manager Carlo Ancelotti. Ibrahimovic has an astounding 14 goals in 13 games played for second-place PSG while the athletic Bafetimbi Gomis leads Lyon with 10 strikes.
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 sat down with club president Dave Kaval to discuss the latest stadium news. This post will run as a two-part series with the second installment to come on Thursday, Dec. 13. Topics included in the latter version will include: Supporters' Section, the new project manager, commercial development surrounding the project and naming rights. Stay tuned for more!
SJEarthquakes.com: Looking back on Groundbreaking Day, what was the most resounding memory that you have taken away from the event?
Dave Kaval: The thing about the groundbreaking day that was really special to me was how many people from the community turned out to support our effort. One of the really cool things was people who brought their own shovels because it showed such an organic support that everybody showed up to support the team and the stadium project together. There were a couple of moments where I saw families with shovels of all different sizes and that was one of the coolest parts.
SJEQ: What was the idea behind Groundbreaking Day?
DK: In thinking about what type of team we are, we’re very close with the Bay Area community and we have a great relationship with San Jose; we’ve been here over 40 years and I wanted a groundbreaking that wasn’t a golden shovel event with owners and executives – I wanted something where everybody could participate. That’s what we are – we’re an accessible team that’s connected to the community in a unique way and I felt that breaking a Guinness World Record together was an embodiment of that philosophy.
"Right now with the Environmental Impact Report, we were limited to 18,000 seats – we think that’s a great number to start with and we’ll have a great demand for those seats, but over time we can decide to enclose that last end." ~ Kaval on new stadium's horseshoe design
SJEQ: Now that the club has set a precedent for involving the community in the construction process, should fans expect to be included in future milestones?
DK: Absolutely. I think as we look at many of the milestones to come, whether it’s erecting the first steel or putting in a seat, I want to make sure that we have a system in place where our fans and the community can be involved.
SJEQ: Now that ground has been broken, what’s the next step?
DK: We’re getting the permits now from the City and that’s a huge step. We’ve been working with the folks in the planning department to get the necessary approvals so we can get ready and break ground in terms of the actual superstructure. That’s something that will happen early next year and will take through 2013 to build the stadium. We’re doing everything we can to get to that date, to make sure that the stadium is designed correctly, we have all the amenities in there and that it’s a great facility for our fans.
SJEQ: Back in October you mentioned 2014 as the target opening date. Is the project still on that timeline?
DK: Yes, we’re still on track to open on time for the 2014 season. We’re very excited about that. We have one more year at Buck Shaw, but in 2014 we’ll have our new home open.
SJEQ: As I understand it, you’re working to finalize seat selection in the coming weeks. What options are you looking at?
DK: We’ve been solicited by a number of different seat providers, each group totally different. Some have been from Australia, the U.S. We’re trying to make sure we select seats that will last a long time and provide a quality viewing angle as well as comfort for our fans. We’re working through those particulars and with vendors to select a seat that we can install later next year.
SJEQ: Obviously there’s a lot of smaller decisions that go into constructing a stadium – what’s one decision you’ve had to make that you didn’t think about going into the process?
DK: There’s so many small things that you have to think about every day to keep the project moving forward – where elevators go, how many stops elevators make, what type of door an elevator has – stuff that is so mundane you wouldn’t think about making that decision. We had a big discussion about blow driers in restrooms and what type to use. Sometimes you have paper towels, sometimes it’s a mix of paper towels and hand driers. Who knew that would become such a big decision? I’m happy to say we got through that and we picked a hand drier that we think will be great. Those are some of the types of decisions we’ve had to make that you wouldn’t otherwise think about and I’m sure there will be many more to come.
SJEQ: Are there any other design considerations your executive staff are working through that you can share?
DK: One of the big things that we just finalized is the concourse design. We’ve determined the exact mix and locations of male and female restrooms, concessions facilities, operations space, etc. That was a really big step.
SJEQ: Are there any specific features you can share with the public?
DK: One of the unique things is our patio club on either end. Also, fans will be able to see the field from the concourse and I think that’s something people will really enjoy.
SJEQ: One of the great aspects of Buck Shaw Stadium is the proximity to the field. Will the new stadium sightlines be just as accommodating?
DK: The sightlines will be great. We have a slightly parabolic bowl with about a 32-degree angle, which is a pretty steep rake. It’s similar to Houston – we talked to a lot of folks there about the rake of their seats and what they were trying to accomplish. That’s a key part of the stadium’s allure and then also being able to see the field from the concourse, the accessibility, the connection to the pitch, you’re going to be so close to the action wherever you’re at in this stadium.
SJEQ: Why did the club decide to use a horseshoe-shaped design rather than a fully-enclosed version?
DK: One thing I think not all people understand about the stadium is why one side is open. First of all, the original idea was that we could close it in the future and add to the capacity. Right now with the Environmental Impact Report, we were limited to 18,000 seats – we think that’s a great number to start with and we’ll have a great demand for those seats, but over time we can decide to enclose that last end. Instead of building an oval with 18,000 seats and making it difficult to expand, we wanted to build the horseshoe because it makes more sense. That’s one aspect to the decision. The other is that it creates the Epicenter area; that’s the area on the open end, connected to the Scoreboard Bar and the field where people can gather before the game – similar to what we do at Buck Shaw, but much larger – where there can be fan zones, BBQ areas, food trucks, activation; we wanted a really fun, festival-like area that can be set up and allow fans a great pre-game experience. I think it’s an idea that fans will really appreciate when the stadium opens. It’s going to be actually inside the gates, which is something unique. The Epicenter will be part of the experience when fans attend Earthquakes games. In many ways, I think this will become one of our signature items.
Follow club president Dave Kaval on Twitter: @QuakesPrez
FIFA World Player of the Year Finalists:
FIFA has announced the three finalists for its annual World Player of the Year and, once again, it has come down to the usual suspects. Three-time FIFA World Player of the Year honoree Lionel Messi, UEFA Euro 2012 Player of the Tournament Andres Iniesta, and 2008 FIFA World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo make up the three candidates.
Despite not winning La Liga last season, Lionel Messi is the favorite to take home the coveted prize. It would be an unprecedented fourth consecutive award for the 25-year-old diminutive Argentine. Messi’s 2011/2012 season goal-scoring streak has eclipsed his previous highs. He sits at 84 goals in the 2012 calendar year, one shy of Gerd Muller’s all-time record.
The much glamorized Cristiano Ronaldo may have been overshadowed in recent years by Lionel Messi as a byproduct of an incessant media campaign. This hasn’t stopped Ronaldo from hoisting the La Liga trophy; Real Madrid’s first since the 2007/2008 season. Ronaldo bagged 60 goals this past season including an astonishing 46 league goals in 38 games played.
Another FC Barcelona star and product of Barcelona’s famed La Masia youth academy, Andres Iniesta enters the fold without the goal-scoring knack that his counterparts possess. Yet the midfield maestro has once again orchestrated the tempo of a rhythmic Barcelona side. Deservedly named the UEFA Euro 2012 Player of the Tournament, Iniesta is seeking his first FIFA World Player of the Year honor.
View The New York Times article on the FIFA World Player of the Year finalists by clicking here:
Alex Morgan named U.S. Soccer’s Female Athlete of the Year
Alex Morgan’s 2012 could not be any smoother. After leading the USWNT to Olympic Gold in London, the 23-year-old former Cal star has been named U.S. Soccer’s Female Athlete of the Year.
Morgan has recorded 38 goals in 55 games played for the U.S. Women’s National Team, many of which have been timely finishes. Included in this was her 123rd minute game-winning goal against Canada in the Olympics semifinals.
View more on Morgan’s banner 2012 year here.
New USL Team in Sacramento
Warren Smith and an unnamed partnership group have successfully secured the rights to bring in a USL team to Sacramento. The team aims to begin play in 2014 and will use Sacramento City College’s Hughes Stadium as their home facility.
Smith is no stranger to Sacramento-area professional sports as he was integral in bringing in the Triple-A Sacramento RiverCats from Vancouver, Canada.
With the addition of another Northern California professional soccer team, will a budding rivalry develop between the two sides? Although they are on different tiers of the American soccer pyramid, the greater San Jose and Sacramento areas will be at the fore to develop the sport’s passion in Northern California.
Read more on this development here.
NASL names new Commissioner
Bill Peterson, a former executive with Anschutz Entertainment Group and NFL Europe, has been named the commissioner of the NASL. Entering its third season in 2013, the NASL looks for new guidance under the experienced Peterson.
Peterson will lead the nine-team league out of their Florida office. The current Chairman of USA Cycling Board of Directors, Peterson will oversee expansion efforts by the NASL that will include the New York Cosmos in 2013 as well as targeted areas of Virginia and Ottowa in the years ahead.
Read more on Peterson here.
A weekly insight into local, national, and international soccer, “Anything but Quakes” previews the best matches of the week ahead.
Game of the Week:
Manchester City vs. Manchester United, Sun. Dec. 9, 5:30 a.m. PST, Fox Soccer Channel
The Etihad Stadium will play host to the Manchester derby, headlining this week’s Barclay’s Premier League matchups. United and City sit at the one and two spots respectively atop the league summit after 15 matches played.
United’s manager Sir Alex Ferguson may be closing in on his tenure after 27 seasons at the helm but the Scotsman has once again put his team in the top spot. United’s “noisy neighbors”, though, are right on their rivals’ heels – only three points behind Manchester United – after securing 36 points.
If Wayne Rooney’s February 2011 bicycle kick was any indication, expect fireworks between the two sides. Former Arsenal hitman, Robin Van Persie, leads the Red Devils with 10 strikes on the year. Supersub Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko paces City with six goals.
Manchester City vs. Borussia Dortmund: Tues. Dec. 3, 11:45 a.m. PST, Champions League
Sunday’s derby aside, Manchester City face a must-win situation against Group D leaders Borussia Dortmund. With just three points from five matches, Roberto Mancini’s side are desperate to advance to the knockout stage.
Chelsea FC vs. FC Nordsjaelland: Wed. Dec. 4, 11:45 a.m. PST, Champions League
Recent managerial appointment Rafa Benitez enters Wednesday night’s Champions League clash with one goal in mind: securing his first win for his employers. After enduring two ties and a loss, Benitez needs three points to ensure that his third-place Chelsea are eligible of making the knockout round. Chelsea currently sits with seven points. Danish side FC Nordsjaelland only has one tie through five matches.
NCAA College Cup:
Division 1 Men’s Semifinals and Finals: Friday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 9
Creighton, Indiana, Maryland, and Georgetown make up the Final Four. Maryland looks to be the favorite after having earned their sixth College Cup appearance in 11 seasons. Sasho Cirovski’s Terrapins will face College Cup newcomers, Georgetown, in one semifinal while Indiana is pitted against Creighton in a Midwestern matchup. Quakes’ players Jed Zayner and Brad Ring will push for their Indiana Hoosiers as they enter their 18th College Cup. Zayner won the national championship in 2003 and 2004 and Brad Ring suited up for Indiana from 2005 to 2008.