40 in 40: Relive the first goal in Quakes history with Mani Hernandez

Mani Hernandez talks scoring the first goal in the first game in Quakes history

Let's go back to 1974. 

It's May 5, and the Quakes were playing their first match in club history against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Empire Stadium. 

In front of an away crowd of 17,343 fans, Mani Hernandez opened the Quakes' scoring account just three minutes into the match. The 'Caps recovered just before the half-time whistle to tie the game up before the break. 

After a scoreless second half, but not without many exciting chances for both sides, the match was ultimately decided by a penalty shootout. The Quakes ran away - literally, sprinted away as fast as they could to catch their flight back - with their first victory, and the rest of those forty years is history. 

We caught up with goal-scorer Mani Hernandez to talk the first game ever, his most memorable moments and what he's excited about most for the future of the organization.  

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SJEarthquakes.com: We're coming up on the 40th anniversary of the first goal every scored in Earthquakes history, scored by you. Tell us about that moment. 
Mani Hernandez: Well it was just one of those lucky things. The fullback crossed the ball – and I was fairly far away – so I was trying to decide whether to trap it or hit it. I figured if I trapped it, the fullback was going to let me have it so I unleashed the shot. [Laughs] I still got hit, but the next thing I knew, all of my teammates were on top of me. [Laughs] I never even saw it go in. 

SJEQ: Is that your most memorable Earthquakes moment? 
Hernandez: Not really. When we beat LA for the playoffs – we needed three goals to make it into the playoffs, and we scored five. At halftime, it was 0-0. When we went in, we really had to put in a great effort and we scored five goals and moved into the playoffs. That day, the crowd was really behind us. You couldn’t even hear the referee’s whistle. It was really, really exciting. That was the most memorable victory. 

SJEQ: The Vancouver match ended in PKs. Was it true that the team had to go straight from the match to the airport? Rumor has it, you didn't even get to shower. 
Hernandez: [Laughs] We went in the locker room and the general manager said the bus is leaving, the airplane is leaving we have to hurry up. No shower, nothing. The guys just grabbed their clothes and a couple of guys were even running through the crowd in their underwear. [Laughs] But, we made it. 

SJEQ: Who was your favorite player to play against?
Hernandez: When we played against New York – being on the field at the same time with Pele. I became susceptible to it, but it didn’t matter. Just watching Pele play and being at Spartan Stadium, and just getting on the field and going against him. 

SJEQ: How does it feel to see the guys back in red? 
Hernandez: It’s really nice. Brings back memories. Especially when the team plays with such courage and hard work. It’s almost like we’re there with them. 

SJEQ: What current Earthquake reminds you of yourself? 
Hernandez: Salinas. He plays the same position, and he’s quick and likes to take people on. He creates time and gets a lot of assists. I love to watch him play. 

SJEQ: If you could go back and give yourself advice at the peak of your career, what would it be? 
Hernandez: Just to stay in the game. Like Johnny Moore has done – he’s coached at all levels and still has passion for the Quakes. You know, it’s our team. Whether we play or not, we will always be Quakes. 

SJEQ: What are you looking forward to in the next 40 years of the organization? 
Hernandez:  I hope they stay in the city and win championships. But just to keep it the same way. Stay in San Jose and keep teaching the game to the kids.