SAN JOSE, Calif. – MLS rookies reporting to camp this week might seem like unfamiliar faces to fans and teammates, but most have more in common with their new teams than meets the eye.
Sam Garza (UC Santa Barbara), Jacob Husted (Washington) and Chris Blais (South Florida) will be the ones carrying ball bags and cones during their first professional camp this week in San Jose. The group comes to Silicon Valley with ties to current Earthquakes players, coaches and even club president David Kaval.
First Round, No. 6 Overall
- Teamed with Blais during the 2012 MLS Player Combine in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. From Jan. 6-10 for adiPure
- Born in the same Carrollton, Texas as Earthquakes midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong
- Garza watched Ampai win a national title with Akron on Dec. 12, 2010 at UC Santa Barbara’s home venue, Harder Stadium
- That same NCAA Tournament came to an end for Garza’s Gauchos when they lost in the second round to Cal and San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham 2-1 in overtime on Nov. 21, 2010 (Garza took four shots during the match, one of which counted toward Bingham’s eight saves on the day)
- Garza is one of three Generation adidas players on San Jose’s roster, joining Bingham and defender Ike Opara
- In 2010, Garza and Hustedt met three times in what is known as the Blue-Green Rivalry between UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly (Garza’s Gauchos got the better of the Mustangs that year with Garza scoring in a 2-1 regular season win at Harder Stadium and UCSB knocking Poly out of the Big West Conference Tournament with another 2-1 win)
Second Round, 25th Overall
- Hustedt first drew the attention of San Jose’s technical staff while playing for the University of Washington in 2011, the same school where Quakes assistant coach Ian Russell played his college ball
- Both Hustedt and Russell earned all-conference honors while playing in what is now the Pac-12
- Before transferring to the Pacific Northwest, Hustedt played under one of San Jose’s original MLSers from 1996, Paul Holocher
- The Earthquakes made camp in San Luis Obispo once during Hustedt’s stint in Central California (San Jose played exhibitions against Seattle Sounders FC and the Houston Dynamo in 2009 and will return to Alex G. Spanos Stadium on Feb. 10 to take on the Colorado Rapids)
- For his part, Hustedt played a key role in the Blue-Green Rivalry in 2010, serving the game-winning assist in a thrilling 1-0 overtime win on FOX Soccer’s College Game of the Week on Oct. 27, 2010
- Not unfamiliar with the Central Coast Derby and Hustedt’s time at Poly was Earthquakes General Manager whose daughter plays for the Mustangs’ women’s soccer team
- Hustedt’s brother, Josh, was a decathlete at Stanford, the same school where club president David Kaval received his post-graduate degree in business administration
Second Round, 33rd Overall
- Before transferring to South Florida, Blais helped lead Michigan to the national semifinals of the 2010 College Cup where the Wolverines were knocked out by Ampaipitakwong’s Zips 2-1 (Blais made six saves in the game, including a 37th-minute stop of an Ampaipitakwong header)
- That match was also played at Garza’s old stomping grounds, Harder Stadium
- Blais and Ampaipitakwong previously met in 2009, a decisive 5-1 romp for the Zips in Ann Arbor
- Blais also shared the field with current Earthquakes defender and then-Notre Dame standout Justin Morrow in 2009
- Both Garza and Blais were unfortunate enough to meet Creighton in Omaha, Neb. During the 2011 College Cup, with the Gauchos and South Florida falling to the Blue Jays in back-to-back games
- Blais, Garza and Hustedt each played for two schools during their college careers (Blais for Michigan and South Florida, Garza for Denver and UC Santa Barbara and Hustedt for Cal Poly and Washington)
The newest Earthquakes will look to make their own marks at the professional level as training camps get under way throughout the league in the coming days, with MLS First Kick 2012 set for Saturday, March 10.
SuperDraft Notes: Garza was the second of two UCSB Gauchos chosen within the first six picks of this year’s SuperDraft, with former teammate Luis Silva becoming the program’s highest-ever draft selection at No. 4 to Toronto FC … Blais was one of only two goalkeepers taken among the 38 draft slots, and one of three South Florida products … At a listed 6-foot-4, Blais would be the tallest member of the current San Jose roster … Hustedt was the only other selection from the Pac-12 besides the UCLA duo of Kelyn Rowe and Chandler Hoffman, both, like Garza, among the 2012 Generation adidas Class.