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Kaval's Kickoff: Offseason acquisitions paying off

What an amazing win this weekend in the nation's capital against a solid D.C. United squad! First of all, the match was fun to watch with a ton of scoring and aggressive play for both teams. I loved how we came out of the gate like a hornet’s nest just all over D.C. in the attacking third of the field. Despite the fact that we did not capitalize with a goal and that D.C. got up on us 1-0, the Quakes fought back with a quick equalizer from Steven Lenhart, who proved to be the hero of the day with a hat trick plus an assist on a stellar give-and-go goal by Simon Dawkins. It was amazing to think that this was the first time since 2003 that the Quakes scored four goals on the road and Wondo was on national team duty.

The upshot of the win was that it was a validation of Frank Yallop and John Doyle's impressive offseason moves. Everyone knew that the Quakes needed additional scoring support to take their game to the next level. Wondo could not be expected to have a brace in every match especially with clubs keying on him after his record-setting 2010 campaign. The question was how to put the right pieces in place to give us additional scoring options. It all started on a dreary January day in Baltimore when they worked their magic to acquire Steven Lenhart from Columbus in exchange for their first pick in the MLS SuperDraft. This may have been overlooked at the time as one of those meaningless intra-MLS trades akin to when the Houston Dynamo acquired Cam Weaver and gave San Jose back local boy and Danville native, Chris Wondolowski (Read: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/soc/6466515.html). As folks can see, these types of moves really matter. They are predicated on knowing the MLS salary system, having relationships with other coaches and front offices, and most importantly a knack for understanding how certain pieces can fit together to make a team greater than the sum of its parts.

On top of Lenhart, the other key offseason move was to obtain the rights to Simon Dawkins on loan from Tottenham Hotspur. The complexity of this player procurement cannot be overstated. This is not a customary MLS type of move. Typically, players coming from the system of a top tier international team are brought on board with a longerterm contract, oftentimes as a Designated Player. This is a high risk, high reward strategy. If the player does not pan out or gets injured, a large portion of your salary budget is tied up, further limiting your actions to recover. A loan is really a great way to get access to top tier talent at an effective investment. What is in it for the team loaning out the player you might ask? Well, for a guy like Dawkins, player development and a chance to play in a competitive league, which will enhance the his skills and long-term ability to contribute in the Premier League.

It must be noted that the loaning team must believe in the management and coaching acumen of the receiving team for this to work. The Quakes’ special relationship with Tottenham Hotspur and the respect that a top-tier international coach like Harry Redknapp has for our technical side is a huge advantage in making these deals work.

With that said, everyone here at Quakes HQ is getting more and more excited about the next two big home matches. The Galaxy match on Saturday June 25 at 3:30 p.m. is approaching a sellout. If you do not have your tickets or know anyone who has not purchased them, they should jump on it this week. The evening before the match we are hosting a “State of the Franchise” talk featuring yours truly and John Doyle. This is a great way to hear first hand some of the inner workings on the business and technical side. This is another great reason to be a Season Ticket Holder. Folks who put deposits for 2011 season tickets or who buy a prorated half season plan are eligible to attend so contact the Front Office on that offer.

The Stanford match marketing is in full swing and you may have noticed our numerous billboards in Palo Alto, San Francisco, and San Jose. We have been excited about the response on the free ticket for anyone who can prove they were at the 1994 Brazil – USA World Cup match. So far we have seen some awesome memorabilia in our Front Office, including match tickets and photo albums from that memorable day. Keep an eye out for a special contest for those who can prove they were at the big game on July 2, 1994. We have also confirmed both the Military Flyover and daredevil skydive team for the pre game last week and we look forward to hosting a great match that folks will remember for years to come.

Don't miss out on the exciting Quakes action to come. I hope to see all of the passionate soccer fans out there in the Bay Area when we take the field for these games.


Dave Kaval
San Jose Earthquakes


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