It is hard to believe that the season is upon us already as we prepare to battle Real Salt Lake on Sunday at 7 p.m. PT at Buck Shaw Stadium. The match opens up the 2013 campaign and the team and players are ready to hit the ground running. There is unfinished business from last season. We want to build on our amazing Goonies season in 2012 with another strong regular season and a run at the MLS Cup.
On the pitch, the offseason was characterized by adding depth in many key areas, especially on defense. This will be essential as we compete this season in the CONCACAF Champions League starting in August. CCL play adds another series of midweek matches to our schedule and it’s crucial that we have quality players throughout the roster to compete in that tournament. We are thrilled to be representing North America in the event and take the responsibility seriously. One surefire way to give MLS some additional street cred internationally would be for an MLS club to represent CONCACAF in the FIFA Club World Cup.
It all starts with defense and we bolstered our depth in back by signing right back Dan Gargan from the Chicago Fire, center back Ty Harden from Toronto FC, and fellow center back Nana Attakora from Finnish side FC Haka. Nana showed some great promise with the Quakes at the end of the 2011 campaign and we are happy to see him back.
Up front, we added forward Mike Fucito from Portland. Fucito has had a great preseason playing along side Wondo up top with both of them scoring two goals in the Portland Preseason Tournament. The Ivy League grad from Harvard will add some depth up top as we get Stephen Lenhart and Alan Gordon back in shape after offseason surgeries.
The one notable departure this offseason was Simon Dawkins heading to Aston Villa in the English Premier League. While this hurt the club in the short run, it may usher in a new era in player sourcing for the organization. Our ability to develop young academy players from top tier premiership clubs like Tottenham Hotspur could be the beginning of a trend. Frank Yallop's ability to develop young players is well known here in the US and now it has gone international. A strong pipeline of premiership players on loan is a key competitive advantage over other clubs in MLS. We also want to wish Simon the best at Villa. What an opportunity for a great young gentleman to play at the top level in his home country.
On the stadium side, we have had a super busy and productive offseason. We finished up the design work and got the first set of permits from the City of San Jose just last week. There is lots of activity scheduled over the next two weeks. During the offseason, I spent almost half of every week at Devcon in meetings to pick subcontractors, coordinate vendors, troubleshoot, and in general push the project forward. The goal is to make sure we get a great stadium built for the club. I have been very happy with the progress to date. We have a great team in place to build our new venue, including project manager David Albert and our general contractor, Devcon. I would also like to give a special shout out to Brent Downing at Devcon; Brent has worked tirelessly to coordinate with the City of San Jose and its planning department on our submittals and code reviews. That’s not an easy task and he always has a great attitude. Go Brent Go!
I am looking forward to seeing the full power of the Quakes’ dedicated and loyal fan base this weekend as we kick 2013 off to a great start. Let’s make this season a memorable one!