Quakes’ Win Streak Continues along with Miracle Season

sfgate.com: Chirs Wondolowski is lofted by his teammates after the game celebrating breaking the MLS All-time goal scoring record of Landon Donovan. (ISI Photos)

SAN JOSE, CA – Anyone who doesn’t believe in fairytales clearly hasn’t been paying attention to the San Jose Earthquakes this season in Major League Soccer. After winning a lackluster four games in 2018 and finishing dead last in the league, the 2019 season has been much more fruitful. With only 12 games left in the season, the Quakes have ripped off four wins in a row and sit just two table point out of second place and are all but locked into a playoff berth.

What’s more impressive is that this season hasn’t been a cakewalk. After acquiring new manager Matias Almeyda in the offseason, San Jose opened the season with four soul-crushing losses. After which left fans wondering if they were in for a repeat of last year. Almeyda, however, has proven that he is the man for the job and turned the Quakes into a true Cinderalla team in MLS. Behind the play of Chris Wondolowski and Valeri “Vako” Qazaishvili, the quakes hope to contend for a title.

Wondolowski, who is regarded as the Quakes best played has stepped up this season to put is his team in position to win numerous games this season. Through this point in the season, he has scored a team-leading nine goals. Those nine goals have also bolstered a hall of fame career. On May 18 he scored his 146th MLS goal and became the All-Time Leading Scorer in Major League Soccer, passing his former U.S. Soccer teammate Landon Donovan. Since then he hasn’t stopped scoring and the current record currently sits at 153.

Vako has been pure magic on the pitch with his mesmerizing dribbling. On Saturday evening against the Colorado Rapids, Vako scored his sixth goal of the season after a crossover dribble move so good, he may be getting contract offers from the Golden State Warriors. The Quakes would go on to win the game 3-1 and Vako was a key factor in the match with fans cheering his name long after the game was over.

The San Jose Earthquakes are the definition of a Cinderella team. The team went from being dead last in the standings to a true and legitimate MLS Cup contender. The season is far from over and the playoffs will be a whole new challenge for San Jose. Can this team got from worst to first and win it all? Only time will tell.

Benfica defeats Chivas 3-0 at the International Champions Cup

by Marko Ukalovic

SANTA CLARA, Calif– Benfica looked and played the role of a champion. They dominated from start to finish in a convincing 3-0 victory against Chivas De Guadalajara in their first leg of their three-city USA Tour 2019 in the International Champions Cup series on Saturday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium.

In a game that featured a crowd of 15,724 where the majority was pro-Chivas, the Portuguese champions of the Premeira Liga were celebrating their record 37th league championship and with 82 major trophy wins, they are the most decorated soccer club in Portugal.

They recently acquired Raul De Tomas to bolster an already impressive offensive attack that also includes Caio, Florentino Luis, and Haris Seferovic.

For Chivas de Guadalajara (the Goats as they’re nicknamed) they came into the match with a retooled roster of Mexican veteran players hoping to find the fountain of youth for the famed Liga MX team that finished second to last place in 2018.

“We have a new team and it’s not going to be easy to find results immediately”, said Chivas head coach Tomas Boy. “We have to keep moving forward with the team that we have right now.”

Benfica got off to the start they wanted at the beginning of the match. Caio received the ball along the left sideline and made a back pass to himself and was able to escape the marking defenseman from Chivas. He raced down inside the box before centering a great pass over to Tomas who one-timed the ball into the back of an open net for a 1-0 lead in the 4th minute.

Chivas earned a free kicked in the 18th minute from just outside the box but the shot by Hedgardo Marin was easily saved by Benfica goalkeeper Odisseas Vlachodimos.

Chivas had their best chance to even the score in the 42nd minute when Jose Van Rankin centered a ball over to Miguel Ponce, who was left all alone in the middle of the box, and his header was stoned away by a diving Vlachodimos as well as a subsequent rebound chance that he came out to kick away from any further danger.

In the 59th minute, Alan Cervantes tried to split between two Benfica defenders inside the box. He was taken down, but referee Joe Dickerson didn’t award a penalty to Chivas. Just two minutes later, Alex Vega was on the receiving end of a turnover from 25 yards out and his shot rifled off the top off the crossbar.

Benfica put the game away with two goals in a four-minute span from two separate defensive collapses by Chivas that led to breakaway goals. First, in the 69th minute, Jota fed a ball over to Rafa, who came in as a substitution to start the second half, he got in all alone on Chivas goalie Raul Gudino and chipped in a shot into the lower right corner. Then in the 73rd minute, Adel Tarrabt sent in a ball to Seferovic, who was able to get behind two Chivas defenders and shot the ball past a challenging Gudino into the back of the net.

“We played a good game”, said Benfica head coach Bruno Lage. “It’s important to win but what’s really important is to see the dynamics of the team. Now we have to be more intense so we can play the style that has become known as Benfica (style).”

GAME NOTES: Benfica’s Jardel and Rafa came into the match as substiutions for Caio and Ruben Dias to start the second half. Seferovic was named the Man of the Match after the game.

UP NEXT: Benfica travels out to Newark, New Jersey to take on ACF Fiorentina of the Serie A league on Thursday 7/25 at 5:00pm at Red Bull Arena.

San Jose sports podcast with Ana Kieu: Earthquakes’ season almost over; San Jose State cheerleader dies after car accident

Photo credit: @SJEarthquakes and kron4.com7

On the San Jose sports podcast with Ana:

1. The San Jose Earthquakes announced their 2018 Club Award winners on Friday night, which included forward Danny Hoesen as Most Valuable Player, defender Nick Lima as Defensive Player of the Year and goalkeeper Matt Bersano for the Andrew Bedard Spirit of the Game Award/Humanitarian of the Year. These awards recognize players that have made a positive impact with the Quakes.

2. The Quakes honored 12 recipients of a Devotion Scarf at halftime of Sunday’s match at Avaya Stadium. Those recipients include Dorene Bolanos, Terry Cotting-Morgan, Curtis Hisao, Jacquie and Jeff Hofmann, Colin McCarthy, Kevin Moore, Raul Peralez, Cezar Popovici, Joe Santos Sr., Susan Silveira and John Wondolowski.

3. San Jose State Spartans cheerleader Anjela Jose died after being ejected from a car in an accident on Sunday, October 14. Jose was from South San Francisco.

4. The Spartans lost a heartbreaker 16-13 to the Aztecs on Saturday, October 20. Brent Brennan hasn’t matched or surpassed the two wins that he earned last year. What do the Spartans need to do in order to win games?

Ana does the San Jose sports podcasts each week for SportsRadioService.com

Get to know the Earthquakes’ new head coach Matias Almeyda

Photo credit: @SJEarthquakes

By: Ana Kieu

There is a new man in charge of the San Jose Earthquakes’ head coaching duties. That new man is Matias Almeyda, a Azul, Argentina native, who was welcomed as a member of the Black and Blue in San Jose, Calif. on Monday.

You can get to know the Quakes’ new head coach before the start of the 2019 MLS season. Here are five things that you should know about Almeyda.

1. Almeyda was one of the most shocking signings in the head coaching department for the Quakes, who shocked the domestic and foreign soccer worlds with the Monday signing.

2. Almeyda most recently served as the head coach of Chivas de Guadalajara from 2015-18. Almeyda led Chivas to five major trophies in three seasons, including the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League.

3. Prior to his Chivas’ tenure, Almeyda served as the head coach of two clubs in his native Argentina (River Plate and Banfield) and led both clubs to promotion from the second tier in his first season.

4. Almeyda was a successful player in Argentina and Europe. Almeyda made nearly 300 appearances for clubs around the world. The majority of Almeyda’s playing career was spent in Italy for Inter, Lazio and Parma. Almeyda also earned 35 caps for the Argentina National Team and represented his birth country at two FIFA World Cups in 1998 and 2002, respectively.

5. Almeyda was linked to a few high-profile jobs before the Quakes’ announcement, including several in MLS and Europe. Almeyda was also linked to the Mexico, Costa Rica and Argentina National Team openings.

Again, best of luck to Almeyda!

Earthquakes hire new head coach Matias Almeyda

Photo credit: @SJEarthquakes

By: Ana Kieu

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Earthquakes announced Monday that the club has hired Matias Almeyda as their latest head coach. Almeyda’s a former Argentina National Team midfielder who most recently led Mexican side Chivas de Guadalajara to the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League title. Interim head coach Steve Ralston will remain in his position for the final two matches of the 2018 MLS season before Almeyda takes over in 2019.

The assistants on Almedya’s coaching staff will be announced at a later date.

“What we saw in Matias was a coach that brought success by creating a culture we strive to emulate,” said Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli. “He has demonstrated leadership qualities in Argentina with River Plate and Banfield, as well as in Mexico with Chivas. He has always had a winning mentality, both as a player and a coach, and most importantly, he is someone that knows how to redirect a team in a difficult situation with a commitment to a distinct style of play and youth development.

“Matias came here because he welcomes the challenge of helping our organization open a new chapter after a grueling season. He had several other opportunities available to him from clubs and national teams around the world but made it very clear the Earthquakes were the one he wanted to lead.”

Almeyda, 44, comes to San Jose with an extensive background both as a player and manager. He most recently served as head coach of Chivas from September 2015 to June 2018, where he led the club to five trophies in his three seasons. During his tenure, Almeyda managed numerous Mexican National Team players, including Carlos Salcedo, Omar Bravo, Alan Pulido, Oswaldo Alanis, Rodolfo Pizarro, Miguel Angel Ponce and Isaac Brizuela.

Almeyda’s side won the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League with consecutive wins over MLS clubs Seattle Sounders FC (3-1 agg.), New York Red Bulls (1-0 agg.) and Toronto FC (3-3 agg.; 4-2 PKs). It marked the club’s first CONCACAF Champions League title since 1962, the first year of the competition’s existence, and secured Chivas’ first-ever qualification for the FIFA Club World Cup.

In addition to their international success, Chivas also performed well domestically under Almeyda. Chivas won the nation’s biannual tournament, Copa MX, in 2015 (Apertura) and 2017 (Clausura), as well as the 2016 Supercopa MX. The club also won the Clausura 2017 Liga MX championship, their first league title in more than 20 years. He was subsequently named Liga MX’s Best Coach after winning the league double.

Prior to joining Chivas in 2015, Almeyda was head coach for multiple clubs in his native Argentina.

In June 2011, Almeyda made the rare transition from player to head coach, where he was tasked with leading a River Plate side that had just suffered relegation. In his debut season as manager, Almeyda led the Argentine power to a commanding 20-5-13 record and promotion back to the nation’s top league. The team also reached the semifinals of Copa Argentina with five consecutive victories, in which they allowed one total goal, before bowing out to Racing in penalties.

Almeyda left River Plate in November 2012, joining Argentina’s Club Atletico Banfield a few months later. Banfield had also recently suffered relegation and turned to Almeyda to restore the club to the Primera División.

Banfield won the championship and earned promotion in his first season, finishing with a 22-8-12 record and +31 goal differential, scoring a league-best 71 goals in 42 games. Only one other team finished with more than 54 goals that season.

After avoiding relegation in 2014, Almeyda’s side surged ahead in 2015, finishing in eighth place in the 30-team league with a 14-8-8 record and earning qualification for the 2016 Copa Sudamericana. Almeyda departed for Chivas after the team’s successful 2015 season.

Almeyda became a head coach after a lengthy playing career that featured stints in five countries. The defensive midfielder played in nearly 300 club matches, including 129 in Italy’s top-flight Serie A, 63 in Argentina’s Primera División and 28 in Spain’s La Liga, also making 20 appearances in UEFA Champions League competition. He featured for some of the world’s most storied clubs, including Inter Milan, Lazio, Sevilla and River Plate.

Among the trophies he helped lift as a player are three Argentinian championships (’93, ’95, ’96), one Copa Libertadores (’96), one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (’99), one UEFA Super Cup (’00), three Italian Cups (‘98, ‘00, ’02) and one Italian championship (’00).

Almeyda started and ended his playing career at River Plate, retiring in 2011, and immediately taking the reins as head coach at age 37.

Internationally, Almeyda made 35 appearances for the Argentina National Team, scoring five goals. He represented his country at the 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cups.

San Jose sports podcast with Ana Kieu: Both Earthquakes and Spartans can use paper bags

Photo credit: @SJEarthquakes and @SJSUSpartanFB

On the San Jose sports podcast with Ana:

1. The San Jose Earthquakes returned to Avaya Stadium…only to lose to Sporting Kansas City 5-1.

2. Quakes captain Chris Wondolowski put the Native American community first before the match vs. Sporting KC at Avaya Stadium. Wondo is half Native American through his mother, Janis Hoyt, who was born into the Kiowa tribe from Oklahoma. Wondo is also a member of the Kiowa tribe.

3. The Quakes host the Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta United at Avaya Stadium tonight. Do you think the Quakes will get blown out again?

4. Despite the 35-22 loss, the San Jose State Spartans put on quite a show against No. 20 Oregon at Autzen Stadium.

5. After the bye week, the Spartans will welcome the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors for this year’s Homecoming game on September 29th. Coach Nick Rolovich and his Rainbow Warriors have proved they weren’t the same team they were last year. What should coach Brent Brennan and his Spartans do in order to prepare for this Mountain West contest? Also, do you think the Spartans can beat Hawaii?

Ana does the San Jose sports podcasts each week for SportsRadioService.com!

Earthquakes get blown out by Sporting Kansas City 5-1

Photo credit: @SJEarthquakes

By: London Marq

SAN JOSE, Calif. — It was a Western Conference matchup at Avaya Stadium on Saturday night as the red-hot Sporting Kansas City took on the bottom-feeder San Jose Earthquakes. It was less of a showdown and more of a beat down as the Quakes, whose record indicates their season, failed to show up on their home field.

With an opportunity to take control and grab the No. 1 spot on in the conference, Sporting Kansas City was motivated to put in a full 90 minutes. The rout was on early. Sporting KC showing why they are the standard in the West notched their first of five goals in the in the 18th minute. The goal came off the back heel of Gutierrez after well placed cross into the box from Gerso. Five minutes later, Sporting KC’s Gerso notched the second goal of the match off of an assist from Gutierrez.

Sporting KC showed the kind of chemistry that has been lacking at Avaya Stadium for the entirety of this season. Kansas City would notch one more goal before the first half and two more in the second half.

Long after the flame of hope had been extinguished for San Jose, Hoesen would score the only goal for the Quakes in the 80th minute. Much too little, far too late. This match was pretty much the Quakes being used as a stepping tool for Sporting KC to take the No. 1 spot away from Dallas FC. Once again, it was back to the drawing board.

Sporting KC blew out the Quakes 5-1.

The Quakes wrap up their homestand with a Wednesday night match versus Atlanta United at 8:00 pm PDT.

San Jose sports podcast with Ana Kieu: What’s new with the Quakes?; What on earth is going on at SJSU?; plus mailbag time

Photo credit: @SJEarthquakes

On the SJ sports podcast with Ana:

1. What are your three takeaways from Quakes vs. Vancouver WhiteCaps at Avaya Stadium last Saturday?

2. Going into Saturday’s game vs. Sporting Kansas City, what are three things the Quakes need to do in order to pick up a win or at least settle for a draw?

3. Vako and Guram Kashia helped the Georgian Football Federation to their first-ever win in UEFA Nations League History last Thursday.

4. The Quakes caught up with Cal Golden Bears defender and Quakes Academy alum CJ Grey last Thursday night.

5. The Quakes will have beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh-Jennings at their training facility on September 28th for her Platform 1440 event at Avaya Stadium.

6. MLS commissioner Don Garber reminded fans and media members alike that finding cures for childhood cancers remains as important as ever. Garber also said that MLS Works will donate $5 to the Children’s Oncology Group each time #ScarvesUp is used on Twitter and Instagram throughout September.

7. What are three things that fans should know about San Jose State football and athletics in general?

8. It’s time to look over some items in Ana’s mailbag!

1) Juan from Fresno, Calif. wrote, “It all starts with the president and AD. If they only care about the bottom line, they won’t hire coaches that understand the terrain. That is how it was with Tim Deruyter, who didn’t care about recruiting in and around the Central Valley. He was exposed once the last of Pat Hill’s recruiting classes left. SJSU need to go look for former alums who know the lay of the land.”

2) Ryan from Wilmington, Del. wrote, “Great article (on the shenanigans at SJSU) even though Boise State is my second favorite team.”

3) Joe from Akron, Ohio predicted that WSU would beat SJSU 54-21.

Catch Ana on the SJ sports podcast each week at SportsRadioService.com!

Road woes: Earthquakes lose to WhiteCaps 2-1 at BC Place

Photo credit: @SJEarthquakes

By: London Marq

The San Jose Earthquakes took a trip to the Great White North and were welcomed by the eighth-seeded Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place on Saturday night. It would prove to be physically challenging match for San Jose as they drew 22 fouls from Vancouver.

The opening score came from WhiteCaps midfielder Alphonso Davies at the 22nd minute. The Quakes remained off-balance, despite controlling the possession for the majority of the game, as well as passing with 82% accuracy for the match.

San Jose found themselves in themselves in the scoring third often enough, with 11 shots taken. However, as it has been all season, opportunities continue to slip through the Quakes’ fingers. Only 2 of 11 shots required goalie intervention.

The WhiteCaps found more success, and founds that they could work the opposing keeper more often, with 5 of 16 shots on target. In the 78th minute, Vancouver’s Nicolas Mezquida effectively shut the door on the Quakes’ hopes of winning the match, when he scored to make it a 2-0 game.

These two teams played a full 90 minutes of soccer plus three minutes of stoppage time. Vako helped the Quakes avoid getting shutout by the WhiteCaps by scoring his ninth goal of the season at the 90th minute.

The WhiteCaps defeated the Quakes 2-1.

Since it’s late in the season and with a negative cellar-dweller image in place, San Jose needs to reevaluate for the team’s future. If they can’t find a way to build a more consistent team with better chemistry, they will be bottom feeders again next year.

The Quakes return home to Avaya Stadium, where they’ll host Sporting KC on Saturday, September 19 at 7:30 pm PDT.

San Jose Earthquakes podcast with Ana Kieu: Latest news on the Black and Blue

Photo credit: @SJEarthquakes

On the SJ Earthquakes podcast with Ana:

1. Before we get to your thoughts on the San Jose Earthquakes vs. Real Salt Lake match at Avaya Stadium last Saturday, let’s talk about the Quakes’ recent trade of Fatai Alashe to FC Cincinnati.

2. Now, let’s talk about the Quakes vs. Real Salt Lake match and how the Quakes should prepare to host FC Dallas, who’s first-place in the Western Conference, this coming Saturday.

3. Quakes captain Chris Wondolowski held a meet and greet with fans at the SoccerKraze in Campbell Monday.

4. For those of you who want a Quakes player to attend your next training session, you can enter the TeamSnap Celebrity Coach contest.

5. The news broke on Tuesday that Quakes’ rookie Gilbert Fuentes was called to the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team for a pair of matches against Mexico and Costa Rica during an 11-day international training camp from August 2 to 13.

Catch Ana on the SJ Earthquakes podcast each week at SportsRadioService.com!