When the San Jose Earthquakes got on the bus departing BC Place Wednesday night, the players, and coaching and technical staffs were surely disappointed and upset. San Jose had just been ousted from the playoffs with a 5-0 loss to Whitecaps FC, although that score line hardly does the team’s effort in the match justice or tells the proper story to those unable to watch the match themselves.
But nonetheless the offseason begins today for the Quakes after a season filled with more ups and downs and loops and spins than a roller coaster at California’s Great America. A year of excitement, passion and learning came to an end on Wednesday.
With a first-year general manager and club President and a midseason change at head coach, the Quakes should be proud of what the team accomplished and excited for the future.
There are no participation trophies in MLS, nor would the Earthquakes want any. But for a team devoid of meaningful matches over the last few years, 2017 brought a breath of fresh air and opportunity for the up-and-coming squad.
Say what you will about team’s lackluster goal differential and road form, the No. 1 objective heading into the season was to punch their ticket to the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs in any way possible. The Quakes had to scratch and claw and fight for everything, with their postseason lives still hanging in the balance in stoppage time of the regular season finale.
But they got there… and for the first time since 2012, San Jose were playing while 10 other teams – nearly half of MLS – had already packed up for winter.
Don’t overlook the team’s performance in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup either. Often referred to as the shortest route to CONCACAF Champions League, San Jose seemed to have a different mentality and motivation in the competition than in recent years. Back-to-back-to-back wins over the SF Deltas, Seattle Sounders FC and the rival LA Galaxy saw the Quakes advance to the semifinals of the longest-running American soccer tournament for the first time since 2004. A loss in penalty kicks at Sporting KC was the only thing that kept them from playing in the final and most would probably agree that things may have panned out differently had the Quakes faired better in the hosting scenarios draw.
All in all, the 2017 season gave fans thrills and chills and saw the team climb to heights previously unreached in years. This will also be the first full offseason for general manager Jesse Fioranelli as he gets the team primed and ready for January.
The fans should also be celebrated for their unwavering support of the club through thick and thin. Their emotion and heart were a major reason why Avaya Stadium became #AvayaCastle, a fortress for the home side.
Check out SJEarthquakes.com and follow the Quakes on social media at @SJEarthquakes to stay in the know on the 2017 offseason and the changes it will bring.