Blue Collar Boys: A team to root for
Hop on a flight to Denver, plan a trip to your local pub or invite some friends over for Saturday's match.
The San Jose Earthquakes versus the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park (6:30 p.m. PT, FSC/KDOW1220) with a trip to the MLS Cup in Toronto on the line. It's goin' down.
Consider this the official 'You Got Served' notice for San Jose soccer fans who haven't joined the growing wave of Earthquakes supporters. If you know a Eurosnob in the Bay Area who isn't on board with the Blue Collar Boys, please promptly and unexpectedly throw a bucket of water in their face. Or at least invite them to watch the video below.
In case you missed it, the Earthquakes knocked out one of the media darlings on Major League Soccer last week. San Jose marched into Red Bull Arena and took it to a team that many experts thought would compete for an MLS Cup in Toronto. New York brought Márquez, Henry and Ángel to the fight and still lost.
San Jose's roster isn't loaded with superstar names, but its players have earned respect nonetheless.
Chris Wondolowski was a blip on the MLS radar before the season started and now he's a household name after forging a path to MVP frontrunner with 18 regular season goals.
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Bobby Convey was labeled a bust after struggling through injury problems in 2009, but has rebounded to take home Comeback Player of the Year honors. If there were any doubters remaining, Convey turned them with two goals and an assist to lead San Jose past New York last week.
Jon Busch was released by the Chicago Fire and sat on the bench for the first 11 games of 2010 before finally breaking into the lineup on June 25 in a scoreless draw at Rio Tinto Stadium against Real Salt Lake. Without the wily veteran San Jose wouldn't have recorded a franchise-record 13 clean sheets this season.
Sam Cronin came to San Jose after falling out of favor in Preki's Toronto FC, a small amount of allocation cash the price paid by John Doyle for a player who has become a mainstay at holding midfielder.
Tim Ward was in a similar doghouse with the Chicago Fire before being traded to San Jose for a conditional draft pick. Ward has started every game since coming on as a sub against the Colorado Rapids on August 7.
"The San Jose Earthquakes were thoroughly outplayed, but somehow managed to win over the weekend." That's the mantra echoed by MLSSoccer.com analysts, coaches and media alike throughout the 2010 season.
San Jose doesn't win pretty. They go up against the ropes and absorb blows.
If the Quakes were a man at a bar, they would be the guy sitting alone in a corner with a scar on his face and a crazy look in his eyes - the dude nobody wants to mess with because even if you pick a fight and win, you know you're going home with a lump on your head.
Many experts are picking Colorado to win this weekend. The Quakes proved the pundits wrong in New York and they're poised to do it again. Either way, the Rapids are in for a gritty, tooth-and-nail battle against a team endeared to its Blue Collar Boys nickname.
The bottom line: This is a team any fan can get on board and cheer for. Whether you support Real Madrid, Inter, Man U or even an MLS team not alive in the playoffs, root for the black and blue on Saturday - or risk having a bucket of water unexpectedly thrown in your face.