San Jose still searching for Win Pin 4.0
In search of shiny, metal object branded "San Jose Earthquakes 4.0." Item weighs several ounces and can be worn as a pin. Has gone missing on May 29, June 2, July 3 and July 31 at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
Following every home win, the San Jose Earthquakes give fans a commemorative pin accompanied by a coupon to a local restaurant. After winning three of their first four at Buck Shaw, fans grew accustomed to receiving their post-game gift. For the last three months, however, Win Pin 4.0 has proven quite elusive.
On Saturday against the Kansas City Wizards, the Earthquakes will look for their first home victory since May 8, a 4-0 drubbing of the New York Red Bulls. Since then, the Earthquakes have lost to Toronto FC (3-1), tied the Columbus Crew (2-2) and D.C. United (1-1), and lost to Seattle Sounders FC (1-0).
"That's something that we've kind of been talking about," Earthquakes forward Arturo Alvarez said. "We just don't seem to put it together at home, which is weird because it seems that we've been playing better away. Obviously the most important place to win is at home, so I think we definitely have to change that."
As Alvarez noted, the Earthquakes have been playing well on the road so far this season. With an away record of 3-3-3, the Earthquakes have as many wins on the road as the team did in 2008 and 2009 combined.
The problem has been playing consistently at home.
"I know the home fans want us to always do well at home, as do we, but every game's important to us, home or away," midfielder Sam Cronin said. "But for sure the home ones you have to at least get a point and you're shooting for three every time. That should be the goal."
Cronin added that in recent home games the team simply has not had the correct mentality, citing the 1-0 loss to Seattle on July 31 as a prime example of not showing up ready to play.
"It's good to have that mentality and working hard and getting points out on the road, but you really have to take advantage of your home games and make the most of those," Cronin said.
If there were any opponent the Earthquakes would welcome to Buck Shaw Stadium, it would be the Kansas City Wizards. The Earthquakes have not lost to the Wizards in San Jose since falling 3-0 on August 16, 2000 at Spartan Stadium. Since then the Earthquakes are unbeaten in 11 consecutive regular season home matches against the Wizards (7-0-4), not including two wins in the postseason.
The 13-match overall unbeaten streak at home against Kansas City is the longest streak against any team at home in franchise history.
Should the Earthquakes win or draw on Saturday, they would tie for the second-longest streak without a loss against one opponent in MLS history. The Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, Los Angeles Galaxy and New York Red Bulls have all had 12-match unbeaten streaks at home against a single team, the Galaxy and Red Bulls also achieving theirs at the expense of the Wizards.
Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop is treating Saturday's game as a must-win for his team fighting to stay alive in the playoff race, despite a rash of injuries that have left the roster depleted.
"The guys who are going to play on Saturday are going to play well," Yallop said. "They have to play well because we have to win."
Following Saturday's match against Kansas City, the Earthquakes host in-state rival Los Angeles Galaxy to Buck Shaw Stadium on August 21. With two consecutive home games on the schedule, the team will be looking to not only get Win Pin 4.0, but 5.0 as well.
"I think the best way to break our slump is to come out and win those two games, get six points out of that and obviously turn things around and have a good run towards the playoffs."