SAN FRANCISCO – The San Jose Earthquakes have enjoyed their two-year-old partnership with Tottenham Hotspur on many levels, from training in London during the preseason to a high-profile visit from Spurs this past summer.
Now they’re hoping the arrangement pays off in an even bigger way: by producing players for the Quakes. Head coach Frank Yallop believes the connection with the English Premier League club is deepening to the point where it may yield some signings for San Jose as the team looks to restock its roster for the 2011 season.
“We’re going to really use [our affiliation with Tottenham] and hopefully get out there and look around and then find those two or three players who are going to make a difference for us,” Yallop told MLSsoccer.com last week.
That could begin as soon as next month, when GM John Doyle heads to Brazil to meet with Sport Club Internacional. The defending South American champions – who are participating in this month’s FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi along with Inter Milan and Pachuca – are another of Spurs’ partner clubs and one with whom San Jose have developed a working relationship.
When Tottenham visited San Jose in July for their friendly match, club brass organized a summit between all of Spurs' partner clubs, including Internacional, SuperSport United of South Africa and South China FC of Hong Kong. That resulted in an exchange of commercial and player-sharing opportunities between the five clubs.
[inline_node:324631]Doyle plans to travel to Porto Alegre, Brazil, in January to meet with Inter’s staff and explore the possibility of bringing players to San Jose.
The Los Angeles Galaxy have a similar arrangement with Brazilian club São Paulo FC, which enabled Juninho, Leonardo and Alex Cazumba to join LA on loan last season. FC Dallas' partnership with another Brazilian club, Atlético Paranaense, helped them acquire MLS MVP David Ferreira.
Internacional have won a handful of international trophies in recent years, including two Copa Libertadores titles and the ’06 Club World Cup (where they upset then-European champions FC Barcelona in the final). The club is known for cultivating local talent and then exporting players to Europe, most notably former Brazil captain Lúcio and AC Milan star Alexandre Pato.
Yallop says the Earthquakes will likely return to North London for training before the 2011 season kicks off. He credits the time spent at Spurs’ facilities last March as a key reason the squad bonded and evolved into an MLS Cup Playoffs contender this past year. And that experience was also important in deepening the bond with Tottenham.
“They watched us play and they were pleasantly surprised by the standard,” Yallop said. “When they came over and played us, they were very happy with the way they were treated. It wasn’t just, ‘We’re going to show a Premiership club a good time’ – it was for real, and we felt very close to that club.”
While no player will make the jump from the mother club in England just yet, Yallop and Doyle have regular conversations with Tottenham’s chief of scouting, Ian Broomfield, and members of Harry Redknapp’s coaching staff.
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