The Soap Box: Quakes fans are rumbling

Top 1906 Ultras supporter shows confidence amidst hot start

Something is
definitely rumbling in San Jose. With two wins already in the bag, the Quakes
2.0 are above .500 for the first time since their rebirth in 2008, and they’re
staring down a winnable matchup against struggling Chivas USA squad on Saturday
night at the Home Depot Center.

This week Dan Margarit
takes to MLSsoccer.com’s Soap Box from his post atop the 1906 Ultras, the
Earthquakes’ passionate supporters group trying to making the seismic shift towards
optimism in 2010.

MLSsoccer.com: We’ve
heard a lot of talk about the young talent and the depth in San Jose this season.
You’re buying it?

DW: There was a
lot of talk, both positive and negative about the team, the players and the
management.  We were kind of confused, we
didn’t know what to think of the team. And you can’t forget the home opener,
when we played some bad soccer and we lost badly to Real Salt Lake. At this
point, we don’t know what to expect, but we’ve showed some improvement over the
last few games with some rookies. They’re turning out to be pretty good
players. It’s early in the season, but you have to say we have some potential
this year.

MLSsoccer.com: When
the Quakes lost that home opener 3-0 to Real Salt Lake, were you thinking: “Here
we go again?”

DW: Exactly. We’re
used to winning. We won championships with some great players before the team
went to Houston, and we understood when the team came back in 2008, we weren’t
just going to jump into a winning season. We understood that, but for the last
two years we didn’t know if we were going to get better. We had some good results
in the preseason and we got some wins against some pretty decent second teams
in England, so we were very hopeful about the home opener. And then we went in,
and the way we lost that home opener was painful to watch. It was tough.

MLSsoccer.com: Are
Quakes fans still restless about getting back to the way things used to be?

DW: Definitely.
What we need for this team and this community to build a new stadium is to get
some good results on the field. There’s not a whole lot of PR or marketing for
the team, so we need some results to get our fans back. San Jose has a pretty
knowledgeable fan base, and people do care about results. The fans do come when
we have a winning team, so hopefully if we have a winning team we can get some
of those fans back that we lost.

MLSsoccer.com: What’s
the buzz around the team like in San Jose this season?

DW: I think it’s
a little better this year, but there hasn’t been a lot of buzz in the last two
years. And I think that’s because we’re playing in a 10,000 –seat stadium, and it’s
almost a sellout every game. And it would be foolish for them to spend millions
of dollars to market the team. What’s the benefit? Maybe 200 more fans per game?
We’ll get a bunch more sellouts this season and that will prove to the
ownership that we’re supportive fans, but we’re waiting for a new stadium. And
until we see shovels in the ground, all we can say is that we’re hopeful it’ll
happen someday.

MLSsoccer.com: On the
field, is Ike Opara the savior of the team? Is he Rookie of the Year?

DW: It’s early to
say, but it looks like it. He plays very mature for his age, and he shows a lot
of potential. He’s pretty much a diamond in the rough. He makes some mistakes,
but it looks like with good coaching on his side, he can correct them.

MLSsoccer.com: Is there
anyone else who we should be on the lookout for?

DW: Omar Jasseh,
the kid from Gambia. We saw him playing in the Open Cup game last week and he
showed a lot of potential. Once again, with these types of players we need to
patient with them, because they need really good coaching. Not just strategy,
but psychologically.

MLSsoccer.com: What
did you make of the Jon Busch pickup? Was that asking for controversy?

DW: At first we were
afraid they wanted to let Joe (Cannon) go, or if Joe wanted to leave us. Joe’s
probably the symbol for the whole team, he’s a legend for us. But knowing that
he has some competition behind him, I think it was a good move for Joe. And at
some point, if some other team wants another goalie and we have Busch, maybe we
can get something for him in a trade. Busch is a good goalie. I thought it was
a good move.

MLSsoccer.com: Have
your fans thought about what kind of DP would fit in at San Jose?

DW: So many organizations
in MLS sign a Designated Player so they can bring fans into the stands, and
maybe not so much for what they can do on the field. But the DP isn’t a
solution for us to sell out the stadium because we’re almost doing that right
now anyway. It doesn’t make sense for us to spend $15 or $20 million a year on salary
for some huge-name players. On the field, we have a bunch of rookies and we
have some experienced players. If our coaching staff can put these guys
together, I don’t think we need a DP.

MLSsoccer.com: What’s
going to happen at Chivas USA on Saturday night?

DW: I feel good
about it. They’re in bad form with a new coach, and we have some momentum. Our
win against New England was a solid one. The Chicago win was controversial and
some people were saying we got lucky. But the New England win, there was
nothing so say about it. We played solid. I think we go into Chivas and we keep
our momentum going.