For David Bingham, there’s one Earthquakes night match that stands out from the rest.
“It was back in 2012 at Stanford Stadium when we were down 3-1 and we came back late in the second half to beat the Galaxy,” Bingham recalled. “I played the second half when we made our comeback and to be on the field to see the way we won that game was pretty remarkable.”
Whether it's the greatest comeback in MLS history in 2003 or Wynalda’s game-winning goal in Major League Soccer's inaugural game, late night heroics seem to be the norm when the lights are the brightest in San Jose.
Come Saturday, the Quakes will look to continue their historic late-night magic in the club’s first match under the lights at Avaya Stadium, a game that the players have been waiting for since the start of the season.
“We’re all excited to get out there,” Bingham said. “The night games are just different. I know it sounds cliché, but when you play under the lights you get that extra boost, especially when you have this beautiful new stadium.”
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Shea Salinas has experienced his fair share of late-night magic with the Quakes. He was on the pitch during Lenhart’s 98th minute goal in 2013 and contributed to the club’s late-game comeback against LA at Stanford Stadium; but for the Quakes veteran, there’s something different about Saturday night's match.
“We can finally get to see how the stadium looks at night during a match,” Salinas said. “It’s something about the night games that gives you that extra boost in the final minutes and to have a match at Avaya Stadium under the lights will be something special for the club.”
Whether they’re donning the blonde Lenny wigs in celebration or embracing one another in celebration after the final whistle, Quakes fans have been the driving force for the club’s late night heroics. With the first night match at Avaya Stadium just days away, the players seem to be more excited for the fans than for themselves.
“I’m just excited for the fans,” Salinas said. “They’ve been behind us during so many night games in the past, so it’ll be a special experience for them to see the team play under the lights.”
“The night game will be a place where fans can come to relax and enjoy the game,” Cordell Cato said. “When you have a match at night the stage is bigger and the crowd tends to get into it a bit more.”
When the players walk out to the illuminated Avaya Stadium pitch Saturday night infront of the 18,000 faithful, Cato and company will be sure to take in the moment, but their focus will be unwavered from the team's goal.
“We just want to win,” Cato said. “If we win the game in the first half and the second half, we’ll give ourselves a good chance to win and to do that in our first night game will be a great boost for us.”