Kaval's Kickoff: Unsung hero from Wednesday's win
It has been quite an historic week for the San Jose Earthquakes. Not only were the Goonies back in action Wednesday night with another dramatic come from behind win led by King Goonie himself, Alan Gordon, but we also saw the City of San Jose approve the four community soccer fields next to our new stadium.
The club’s performance out of the long layoff was a joy to behold in the thin mile-high air of Denver where the Rapids have dominated MLS foes. Once again, the Quakes found themselves looking at a deficit with less than 20 minutes left. Not to fear. Head coach Frank Yallop set the tone by making three offensive substitutions in Gordon, Khari Stephenson and Shea Salinas and shifting formations to push the line of attack forward in an all out effort to equalize. It worked.
Gordon got the equalizer on a great cross in from Salinas and Wondo calmly finished off his PK stoppage time after Gordon was taken down in the box. This is the type of ending to a game that a club hopes to get once a season and it was already the fourth time we’ve in that fashion. Last night is another example of the special character of this club. #Gooniesneversaydie
But the great result was almost not to be. On Tuesday, our team administrator, Joe Dincecco, was notified that our flight to Denver was cancelled. Not good.
After spending five hours working with the League and our travel partners, it was clear that there were no seats to get the team to Denver on Tuesday. Implementing a well rehearsed backup travel plan that would have made the US Airlift Command proud, Joe had a charter plane booked within two hours and the team was able to get to Denver Tuesday evening and get a good night of sleep in before the match.
The only issue was that the baggage would not fit on the plane. On the tarmac, a quick and brave decision was made. Jose Vega, team equipment manager extraordinaire, calmly volunteered to drive the 10 hours to Denver. What he didn’t know is that it’s actually 20 hours to Denver.
Drive 20 hours to Denver! Are you serious?
No problem for Jose and his son, who stocked up on four shots of five-hour energy and rode off toward the Sierras and the massive Rocky Mountains hundreds of miles beyond…
I cannot thank Jose and his son enough for their tireless support of the club. These are the unheralded behind-the-scenes actions that allow our club to succeed and compete to bring home another MLS Cup.
While I was extraordinarily proud of Wondo crushing that clutch PK in stoppage time and Gordon's electrifying finish to equalize the match, I was even more proud when I walked into the visiting locker room at Dick's Sporting Goods Park two hours before the match and saw Jose Vega with a big smile on his face and all of our club’s gear perfectly set up for the game. Now that was a moment for the ages.
So while the box score does not list Vega with an assist, the way I see it, he deserves such an honor.
Not to be outdone, we had great news on the stadium front. It was a landmark day for the San Jose soccer community this Tuesday when the San Jose City Council showed vision and leadership in approving the construction of the four community soccer fields adjacent to our practice facility and the new stadium. This investment – over $14 million in Measure P funds approved by San Jose voters in 2000 – will create a lasting legacy here in our community. Children and recreational players will have another top-notch facility to practice and play. In 20 years, when the Quakes beat China FC in the Champions League with a group of home grown soccer superstars, we can look back at these fields as the birthplace of a new era of soccer players not only for the Quakes but for the United States.
Finally, I want to encourage everyone to get out and support the Quakes when we take on Sounders FC on Tuesday, June 26 at Kezar Stadium in foggy San Francisco at 7:30 p.m. It will most likely be cold so bring your Quakes pullover or hoodie and show your colors. This is actually a great time to use one of those nifty Quakes scarves. As Mark Twain famously stated, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."
The club is taking this quarterfinals match very seriously and winning the U.S. Open Cup leads to an automatic berth in the CONCACAF Champions League. I want to call on all of Quakes Country in SF to represent and show their support for our team.
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