The San Jose Earthquakes enjoyed the highest of highs last Saturday before descending back among us mortals 72 hours later.
Such is life in MLS, as Shea Salinas’s stoppage-time stunner to sink the rival Los Angeles Galaxy 3-2 at Stanford Stadium would fade into memory—albeit one that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Just three days afterward, some shaky officiating reduced the Quakes to 10 men and they succumbed 4-2 in Atlanta despite knotting the game midway through the second half behind a beautiful ball from defender Nick Lima and classy finish by forward Chris Wondolowski.
Despite the roller coaster of a week, first-year general manager Jesse Fioranelli has to be pleased with the initial results since appointing technical director Chris Leitch as head coach. Since replacing Dominic Kinnear on June 28, the new gaffer has led San Jose to the U.S. Open Cup final eight and kept the Quakes in position for postseason play—something their fans haven’t seen in four years. Right now, they’re fifth in the Western Conference with 26 points and just two points off from Houston Dynamo for third.
UP NEXT: a Monday rematch with the Galaxy at Avaya Stadium—this time in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals. WHERE TO WATCH: Go to sjearthquakes.com for tickets or catch the live stream on ussoccer.com at 7:30pm.
RENO DESTROYS L.A. IN RECORD-SETTING FASHION
The Quakes’ USL affiliate, Reno 1868 FC, did its part to crush any hopes of revenge by relentlessly routing the L.A. Galaxy’s second team 9-0 on Monday.
Yes, you read that right. A touchdown, extra point, and a safety in American football parlance. Unfortunately for Los Dos, they had no answer for the scoring barrage, which began with an own goal and ended with a conventional one from midfielder Darwin Espinal, who the Quakes signed just two weeks ago from the USL PDL’s South Florida Surf after being named the developmental league’s No. 1 prospect.
However, the Man of the Match was fellow midfielder Chris Wehan, who notched two goals and two assists in the historic blowout—one that the league had never witnessed before at this magnitude.
On a more somber note, Reno midfielder Matheus Silva awoke from a coma Thursday after a July 4 incident swimming in Lake Tahoe where he lost consciousness after struggling to stay afloat, according to an official Quakes statement. He was ultimately released from the Intensive Care Unit and is scheduled to begin physical therapy on Friday.
UP NEXT: Reno travels north to Vancouver to face the Whitecaps’ second team Saturday at 3pm. They’re currently fourth in the Western Conference with 25 points, only one point from catching the third-place Swope Park Rangers.
BURLINGAME ROARS INTO HOME FINALE AFTER UNBEATEN ROAD TRIP
Moving along the family tree to the USL PDL, coach/Quakes Hall of Famer Joe Cannon’s Burlingame Dragons showed some impressive mettle in Southern California, capturing four points despite having to play back-to-back clashes.
Last Friday, the Dragons surged ahead of the Ventura County Fusion 2-0 before running into some gamesmanship from the hosts, who refused to step on the field until well over 10 minutes had elapsed from the end of halftime. Ultimately, the Fusion scored twice in the last 11 minutes of the game to force a 2-2 draw.
However, Burlingame FC ended the trip on a high note, downing the SoCal Seahorses 3-1 in La Mirada on the strength of some gritty, organized team defense and a hat trick from forward Matt Wiesenfarth, who scored four times in total over the two games. The UC Davis product has now netted on 10 occasions in just nine contests, good for third in a league with 72 teams and a brief 14-game schedule.
Currently in a rebuilding year after losing three players to MLS (Nick Lima to San Jose, and Josh Smith/Brian Wright to New England) and back-to-back playoff appearances, the Dragons stand in sixth in a deep Southwest Division with 13 points, just three off the pace for fourth.
Aside from Wiesenfarth, several standouts mark the roster, like forward Jamael Cox, who had a trial with Reno last month. Central defender and captain Josh Morton (Cal), holding midfielder John Partida (San Jose State), and attacking midfielder Amir Bashti (Stanford) are among the plethora of Quakes Academy alumni and current college stalwarts who have displayed their quality and potential for the next level.
The Quakes Academy youth movement in Burlingame also features incoming collegians like forward Arda Bulut (Stanford) and midfielder Andrew Paoli (UCLA), who scored his first international goal for the U.S. U-18 team last month, a game-winner to beat Portugal in Lisbon.
UP NEXT: Fans’ last chance to watch the next wave of Quakes is tomorrow at 4pm, when the Dragons close the home schedule at Burlingame High School vs. Orange County Soccer Club’s U-23.
For Fan Appreciation Day, free Blue Line Pizza will be served and the first 200 fans will receive Dragons gear—shirts, beanies, and a few jerseys and hats signed by coach Joe Cannon and Dragons alumni Nick Lima. Tickets are $12 at burlingamedragons.com or at the door.
THE GLOBALIZATION OF FOOTBALL CONTINUES
The Quakes recently announced a multi-year collaboration project with the German Football Association (DFB), which will be “focused on knowledge exchange, game development and machine learning,” according to an official team statement.
The move represents another step forward in Fioranelli’s vision to grow the Quakes Academy into a force to be reckoned with not just nationally, but eventually, on an international level. As far as on the field, Quakes Academy/Burlingame FC products like J.J. Foe Nuphaus and J.T. Marcinkowski have had training stints with Hoffenheim and Eintracht Frankfurt in the past.
On the other hand, Markus Wiese, head of the German Federation, sees an opportunity for the DFB to spread its wings in Silicon Valley and take advantage of the brainpower in the region.
The globalization is happening on all levels as well. At Las Positas College in Livermore, Spain’s LaLiga and U.S. Club Soccer are collaborating with NorCal Premier Soccer this weekend on a Formation Methodology Level 2 Course.
Among the coaches involved are Gari and Zunbeltz Fullaondo, two brothers who once worked in Athletic Club de Bilbao’s famed Lezama youth academy. Athletic is a unique club that has managed to qualify for European football for four consecutive seasons and win more domestic cups than Real Madrid despite a policy that mostly restricts its player pool to players formed in Lezama, which has become a model for FC Dallas’s wildly successful academy, per MLS technical director Alfonso Mondelo, who grew up a stone’s throw from Bilbao.
Today, the Fullaondo brothers are bringing some of those ideas to local coaches in the Bay Area, along with a few they’ve developed themselves in their current roles running Kimet Sport, a methodology and consulting company that integrates new-age analytics to the technical aspect of development.
With Germany’s national team having won the last World Cup and Under-21 European Championships, and LaLiga having captured eight of the last 12 UEFA Champions League and Europa League trophies, the constant sharing of quality ideas across hemispheres can only benefit the sport’s rapid progress in America.