Kaval's Kickoff: Back to winning ways
What a great win this weekend at Buck Shaw Stadium against the New England Revolution! The match featured two beautiful Quakes goals. Newcomer Ellis McLoughlin got his first MLS goal, heading in an awesome cross from Chris Wondolowski. While Wondo's finishing skills are world renowned, his service to Ellis in the 71st minute was picture perfect, leading to a huge Quakes celebration and a 1-0 lead. With Quakes fans rocking in celebration with the second half goal and looking to hold off New England for the three points, Bobby Convey delivered possibly the best strike of the 2011 season on a set piece just outside the box. The wicked bending goal nipped the post near the upper “V” and produced one of the loudest roars to date at Buck Shaw.
While it’s always great to win, it’s even better to win with memorable and artistic goals like the ones this weekend. It demonstrates the amazing skill that our players have. I hope that all the casual fans at the match have a new appreciation for the skills necessary to play in MLS. One of the coolest things about a continuous-play sport like association football is that the scoring moments are accentuated by the minutes and minutes of anticipation. This creates a great thrill for all the fans and solidifies the memories of the match that last a lifetime. On a warm May evening, I had plenty of new fans come up to me and express their appreciation for the performance of the players and the spectacle of the match. When you hear that from first timers, you know you are creating life long fans.
I have to say that it is nice to see all the second-half goals the past two matches. Really a great sign. The defense is also looking solid and the team seems to have found a chemistry together that is fun to watch.
In retrospect, by far the best moment for me that symbolizes what the San Jose Earthquakes mean to the community and our fans occurred after the match. In the afterglow of the victory and after playing 90 minutes of hard charging soccer, I looked out and saw Steven Lenhart and Ryan Johnson playing an impromptu game of keep away out on the pitch with a bunch of children. In this day and age of multi-million dollar prima donna athletes (see: NBA, NFL, MLB), this is like seeing a unicorn. Almost nowhere other than the Quakes can fans have that type of genuine and sincere connection with top tier professional athletes. These are the moments that sports are made for and I was proud to see our players having fun and creating lasting memories for all the kids and their families. And if that wasn't enough, Lenny and Wondo must have signed a million autographs and posed in another thousand photos before they headed back to the locker room. My hat goes off to our players. Their true love of the game and respect for what it means to be a professional athlete makes what we do special.
I want to encourage everyone to find a way to support the Quakes tonight during the US Open Cup match at Buck Shaw at 7:30 p.m. A win would get the Quakes into the Round of 16. I hope to see everyone out there.
San Jose Earthquakes