Kaval's Kickoff: Remembering California Clasico
It was a night for the ages. A remarkable #GooniesNeverSayDie comeback of epic proportions fueled by the energy of 50,000+ Quakes fans. Last year’s 4-3 comeback was widely considered one of the greatest MLS matches of all time. How could the 2013 version of the heated derby measure up? Well, it did and then some. In a match that has to be one of the greatest sporting events in modern time, the Quakes scored twice in stoppage time while down a man. That is just incredible, almost inconceivable. But it happened, and history was written one Quakes goal at a time.
There was so much to remember from the night. Frankly, it was hard to boil it down to a Dave's Top Ten List, so I improvised and went with sixteen! Here are my Top Sixteen highlights from the 2013 California Clasico, certainly an ESPN Instant Classic:
16) Bacon: How great was it to have an all Bacon Food Truck?
15) Flyover: The Patriots Jet team did a great formation flyover before the game. Very cool.
14) Tifo: I thought the 1906 Ultras had a great Tifo that saluted the troops and America while inspiring the club. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated and passionate supporter’s groups that spend countless hours designing and making the elaborate Tifo displays. It creates such a unique and memorable backdrop for our games. Bravo.
13) National Anthem: We changed it up a bit with a Hawaiian inspired rendition of the National Anthem. Senior Airman Raneil Buenviaje dazzled the crowd with his ukulele.
12) Courage. That is the word that comes to mind when I think of Lenny's performance in the Clasico. He was fighting for every loose ball and wore down the LA defense. The image of the blood pouring down his face while he remained in the match was unbelievable.
11) Homecoming: It was so moving to see Lt. Colonel Celene Fyfee reunited with her son Jackson as part of the first goal ceremony. On a night where we honored the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, it was fantastic to see such a meaningful reunion.
10) Fireworks: I love smiley face fireworks. Huge shout out to Pyrospectaculars and Jon Erickson for one of the best shows I have ever seen. The largest show in California filled the sky for over 20 minutes with a wall of colored explosions. The choreography with the music was superb.
9) Tailgating: How great was it to see thousands of Quakes fans decked head to toe in blue, tailgating amongst the Eucalyptus Groves surrounding Stanford Stadium? In spite of the oppressive heat that hit the mid 90s, everyone was thoroughly enjoying themselves. It was cool seeing kids and adults alike kicking the soccer ball around. I love the tradition of tailgating, and Stanford Stadium is a perfect setting.
8) Jon Busch: How good is Jon Busch? Not only did he volunteer to lead the Saves for SEALS program that raised money for the NAVY SEALs Foundation but he was an absolute BRICK WALL in goal, especially in the second half. His amazing reflexes prevented us facing a 4-1 deficit. He has got to be one of the most clutch goalkeepers I have ever seen. Just amazing. Also, John's celebration when we scored the winning goal was worthy of a sports center highlight. It was pure excitement, and the passion was incredible.
7) Marvin's Grin: How awesome was it when Marvin broke A.J. DeLaGarza’s ankles on an amazing move towards the goal, and he just stopped and flashed a huge grin? That was priceless. Watch this GIF.
6) Halftime Show: I loved the halftime show honoring the Armed Forces. A tradition at the mid year Cali Clasico, we had over 500 members of the Military from the Army, Navy, Airforce, Marines and Coast Guard on the field being honored. The balloons looked super cool. And how about that flying flag? Seeing the American Flag flying around and out of the stadium was an amazing moment, and one that I will never forget.
5) Jumpers: We went four deep with the jumpers this year, and they represented. Great show. Loved the smoke and the flag with the last jumper.
4) Mark Watson: Mark has brought so much to the club since he stepped in as interim head coach. On the biggest day with the largest stakes, he rose to the occasion and inspired our team to a historic victory. That is leadership.
3) Shea Salinas: Shea had his best match ever as a Quake. He was all over the field. When we needed the key equalizer, he charged the net and blasted home the goal in the 92nd minute. Shea epitomizes the Quakes never say die sprit. Inspiring.
2) Two words: Alan Gordon. The head Goonie is back and was up to his same old tricks as the super sub. Two goals - the first a critical momentum builder in the 60th minute that sparked the team and 50,000 fans, the second, coming deep in stoppage time, a beautiful header off a Sam Cronin chip that seemed to hang in the air forever before Gordo put it home. Pandemonium ensued. History was made. The Quakes had won!
1) 12th Man 50,000 Strong: The number one highlight for me was the roar of the crowd, especially between the equalizing and winning goals. I do not think I have ever been at such a loud sporting event. And I grew up in Cleveland in the Dawg Pound. It was unreal. The energy the crowd gave our team should be listed in the box score as an assist. We are so fortunate to have one of the most loyal and dedicated fans bases in all of sports.