The San Jose Earthquakes’ brand-new practice center was once scheduled to open on June 1, but instead saw its first action Friday as the team worked out in advance of facing Colorado at home on Saturday night.
The Nutrilite Training Facility might have been open even earlier than that, if coach Frank Yallop had been given half a chance.
“It was finished ahead of schedule, and we made the decision to hold off [on the opening],” Earthquakes executive vice president David Alioto told MLSsoccer.com. “We made sure we didn’t give Frank Yallop the keys.”
They did Friday.
After using facilities at West Valley College in Saratoga and Santa Clara University, the Quakes have their own home. No more having to change at team headquarters and then drive 20 minutes to the field, or having to walk back to the locker rooms along a busy thoroughfare in order to avoid a construction zone.
“Everyone’s excited about it,” said captain Ramiro Corrales. “It’s about time.”
In the space of two months, the Quakes have opened their first youth academy and finished the training center, which is located at the same spot just west of San Jose International Airport where the team is hoping to build a soccer-only stadium.
“The first thing is getting the training pitch,” Yallop told MLSsoccer.com. “The next thing is getting a stadium.”
The $1.25 million practice facility represents many things to the Quakes, who hope it will help to stoke fan excitement. With chain-link fencing around part of the field, supporters can view their favorite Quakes players during the week, instead of just on game days.
“For the players, I think it’s critical they have a place of their own,” Alioto said. “For the management, it’s important to have the first piece in place. For the fans, it’s great to have a place where they can see us. It gives us a footprint at the new stadium site.”
It also gives the Quakes a better chance at convincing a designated player to join them, if San Jose decides to go that route in the future. To players coming from a top league in Europe, for example, driving themselves out to WVC for training would represent more than a little bit of culture shock.
“The more things you can have in your favor, the better,” defender Chris Leitch said. “It’s nice to see the club, the ownership group, and [general manager] John Doyle step up and identify a great need, a training facility we can use any time. It’s just one step closer to being a complete club. I’ve seen in my short time being here some changes being made that enables this club to have no excuses.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @sjquakes.