FEATURE: Looking ahead to phase one of the Quakes’ continuation of play

chris wondolowski 2020 training

After a successful participation in the MLS is Back Tournament, the San Jose Earthquakes are now turning their full attention to phase one of the continuation of the 2020 regular season.

The Quakes will resume regular season play at Earthquakes Stadium against longtime rival and MLS is Back Tournament champions Portland Timbers on Wednesday, Aug. 26, as they will aim to earn their first home victory of the season. The team will then travel to Los Angeles for back-to-back away matches, facing the Cali Clasico rival LA Galaxy on Saturday, Aug. 29, and the 2019 MLS Supporters’ Shield winners LAFC on Wednesday, Sept. 2. San Jose will return home and host Colorado Rapids on Saturday, Sept. 5, before heading north to battle the reigning MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders FC on Thursday, Sept. 10. The Earthquakes will then return to San Jose to close their phase one schedule with another Cali Clasico battle on Sunday, Sept. 13.

Phase one marks another challenging restart for the Quakes as they will face most of their club rivals in this compact schedule. The reduction of travel in efforts to prevent COVID-19 exposure has forced Matias Almeyda’s squad to face its closest Western Conference opponents.

In addition to the competition modifications made due to the ongoing global pandemic, MLS clubs anticipate playing 18 additional games, resulting in a total of 23 regular season matches instead of the traditional 34. Due to this, each individual match carries that much more importance in the standings. Thanks to their undefeated record (2-0-1) in the group stage of the MLS is Back Tournament, which counts towards the regular season, the Quakes are currently in sixth place in the Western Conference standings.

Another notable piece is that this phase will also see the return of key players like LA Galaxy’s Jonathan Dos Santos (invasive hernia surgery) and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (fractured collarbone surgery). LAFC will also get 2019 MLS MVP Carlos Vela back on the field after he opted out of the MLS is Back Tournament due to family priorities. The Sept. 13 Cali Clasico clash will also be the first time the LA Galaxy visit Earthquakes Stadium since the U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal match on July 10, 2017, which saw the Quakes defeat their rival 3-2. Mexico International forward Chicharito will play in San Jose’s home ground for the first time as well.

After being locked in the Orlando bubble for over a month, the players, coaches and staff will once again enjoy playing at home. And although they will not be able to be cheered on by a live audience at Earthquakes Stadium due to the COVID-19 protocols, the team will still feel supported by the fan-made artwork that will be hung in the stadium during home matches. Quakes fans that are interested in participating in this unique opportunity can find out more here.

Despite the challenges and uncertain lifestyle circumstances, the Quakes are back in San Jose, mentally and physically recharged, looking to carry on their team brotherhood and positive chemistry through the remainder of the season. With the first match only days away, the team is back in full training mode, empowered by their unity and momentum from their captivating run in Orlando.

“Being in Orlando with the team was a lot of fun and I think we are ready to go into the next phase and come back and play games here,” said midfielder Jackson Yueill after the team’s return to full-team training on Wednesday. “I think we got a little taste of what the season can be like in the direction we are going, and we’re excited to hopefully play the remainder of the season and get back to playing here at Earthquakes Stadium.”

The Quakes will continue the regular season against the Portland Timbers at Earthquakes Stadium on Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m. PT. Broadcast information will be announced at a later date.