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Kaval's Kickoff: Heartbroken in Seattle

Heartbreak. That is how we all felt after the dramatic Seattle Sounders FC comeback over the weekend. It was a script straight out of Hollywood: A 42-year-old pioneering goalkeeper and all-around great guy, Kasey Keller, in his last regular season home match, 64,010 roaring fans - surely, a dominating performance by Keller was on tap and the Quakes would roll over and lose 3-0 or something like that, right?

Our guys didn't get the memo about rolling over and playing dead like the Washington Generals. We started the match with excellent intensity and heart. We pressured for the first quarter of the match and got a fantastic goal from Chris Wondolowski in the 24th minute. The stadium was in stunned silence, save a small group of 100 Quakes supporters. I cannot remember such a large crowd so quiet, especially in such a loud and imposing setting at CenturyLink Field. I was so very proud of our team.

Everything was on track for a great upset until about the 80th minute and, in a flurry reminiscent of our entire season, I looked up and we were losing 2-1; the stadium was louder than a Metallica concert. In hindsight, we really needed that second goal to close the Sounders out. We have been struggling to add to 1-0 leads and, because of that, our opponents have been throwing everything forward late and we have been conceding goals in the last 15 minutes. We have conceded a league-high 15 goals in the last 15 minutes. That won't get it done, no question about it. In comparison, Seattle has only conceded three goals – a league best – in the final 15 and has scored a whopping 15. It is interesting to look and see how Seattle has locked down so effectively. It is not by packing in the box and bunkering down. It is actually by scoring. The classic adage seems fitting: The best defense is a good offense.

What can we learn from this? And how does this shape our decisions for next year? Great questions and ones that our management team is focused on now and into the off season. It's apparent that scoring 36 total goals as we have through 33 matches is not a recipe for success in the league. MLS is changing and there is an increasing premium on getting goals. The quality of some of the strikers and DPs has made it almost impossible to rely solely on a defensive strategy to win. We need to score more and we need more threats offensively. As we put our strategy together this offseason, a refocus on obtaining and investing in goal scoring threats is at the top of the list. It was a hard lesson that we learned this weekend but one we can grow from to position us for success in the coming year and beyond.

On a different note, I hosted my first Office Hours on Monday and had three visitors drop by. In case you missed it, I am now opening my office doors to the public on Mondays between 3 and 5 p.m. If you have something club-related that you would like to chat about, feel free to come and see me during those hours at 451 El Camino Real, Suite 220 in Santa Clara, Calif. Unfortunately, I will be out of the office next Monday due to an off-site meeting, but I plan to be back on Oct. 31.

We're expecting a packed crowd on Saturday for the season finale against FC Dallas and I hope to see you all out there to welcome a San Jose legend, Troy Dayak, to the club's Hall of Fame. The night promises to be a memorable event with Wondo also chasing his second-consecutive Budweiser Golden Boot. We're approaching a sellout already, which would be our sixth in-a-row. This is a testament to the true-blue supporters that we have here in San Jose.


Dave Kaval
San Jose Earthquakes


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