If you’ve been watching the San Jose Earthquakes compete in the MLS is Back Tournament, you may have noticed them looking a little… different.
The Quakes released their ‘408 Edition’ kit back in February to mixed reviews. Some fans loved it, others didn’t. But it wasn’t for a lack of an amazing unveil video:
The Earthquakes organization has had civic pride since the team was founded back in 1974. That pride has been evident through the countless community initiatives the club has undertaken, including the recently announced Pledge 74 campaign to fight food insecurity in the South Bay. The 408 Edition kit was the team’s way of proudly putting their city on display every time they stepped on the field, with the flag of San Jose built right into the shirt.
The flashy white jerseys and white socks came with two options for shorts: blue and gold. Blue was supposed to be the primary choice with gold providing an alternative in case of a similarly clad opponent. All in all, the 408 Edition kit was not supposed to be worn more than a dozen times throughout the season and the gold shorts on just a handful of occasions.
In their second match of the tournament, MLS assigned the Quakes to wear white opposite Vancouver’s blue. And due to a conflict in the shorts, San Jose was forced to wear the gold and trotted out on the field in the kit for the first time.
The immediate reaction, at least on social media, was shock and awe. Never before had Quakes fans seen their side wearing these colors and numerous mentions were made about how the team looked more like San Jose State. There was even a reference to the shirt looking like an overflowing bowl of buttered popcorn.
But something magical happened that evening. The Quakes erased a 3-1 deficit with three goals in the final 20 minutes, including a stoppage-time winner by Shea Salinas, to win 4-3 and prompt one fan to buy the jersey with Salinas embroidered on the back.
The Earthquakes wore the kit again, complete with gold shorts, vs. Chicago Fire FC five days later and prevailed 2-0. Suddenly the team had this magical pot-of-gold momentum lifting them to first place in Group B and a date with Real Salt Lake in the Round of 16.
Now in the Knockout Stage where ‘home’ teams could dictate their preference, San Jose chose to roll the dice with the gold shorts and ultimately put five past Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Zac MacMath in a staggering 5-2 win. RSL had allowed a total of two goals in their three Group-Stage matches combined.
Three straight wins, 11 goals, and a place in the Quarterfinals has given the gold shorts a cult following. Fans, once undecided about the look, are now clamoring for the team to wear them every game and asking where they can buy them.
As Smash Mouth taught us: all that glitters is gold. Will we see the Quakes glitter again on Saturday vs. Minnesota United FC? The match kicks off at 5 p.m. PT on ESPN2, presented by Intermedia.