Saturday, August 21, 2010

Shrader's Spin: Shuffling Lineup

My, Oh my, Oh my, Oh my.

Within hours of getting major a reinforcement up front the Quakes lose one of their two top-notch goalkeepers. Joe Cannon’s broken ankle came a day after the club signed European veteran Geovanni and three days after Cannon got his sixth shutout of the year, a 1-0 win over Kansas City.

‘Tis the way of life for the 2010 Earthquakes.

Jon Busch is back in goal this week, and until further notice. And one of these days Geovanni will be in the lineup – likely this week – quite possibly as a second forward. “He’s a bit like (Guillermo Barros) Schelotto,” says coach Frank Yallop, referring to the Columbus forward. “He’s a bit of a floater. He finds the ball in pockets and slides the ball to other players.”

“It shows that ownership is dedicated to the playoffs and winning a championship,” says Chris Wondolowski, who scored the goal against KC. “We appreciate it, because that’s what’s on the players minds, too.”

Geovanni is 30 years of age. He has spent most of his professional career playing in Europe, the last two seasons at Hull City in the EPL, before they were relegated. FC Barcelona is among the teams for which he has played.

“We’ve never had a player of his quality,” Yallop says. He talks about Huckerby, Lima and Andre Luiz in the same conversation, but by most accounts Geovanni is a cut above. The league’s 14th Designated Player should make a big impact on a team that is currently tied for 8th in the eight-team playoff chase in Major League Soccer.

For now the attack will have Bobby Convey only part time. He’ll have to make his timely offensive runs from the left back spot, filling in for the injured Ramiro Corrales.

“It’s difficult to get moved in the middle of the season,” Convey said. “But that’s what our team needed right now.” He says he can’t be as creative from the back because of his defensive responsibilities, which is too bad, “because this is probably the best season I’ve had in MLS.”

Convey remains the first choice on corner kicks, and other set pieces, which have been an important part of the Quakes attack this season. They’ve scored six times on corner kicks.

Yallop has been thrilled with Convey all season, in every way. “I told Bobby now to be the best attacking left back in the league,” he said. “Bobby has been good and professional at everything.”

“I had to (make the move), it’s something I was asked to do,” Convey says. “That’s what Frank wanted, so that’s what I’ve done.”

While the lineup continues to be shuffled, mostly because of injuries, Yallop says there is no doubting the commitment by ownership and General Manager John Doyle. Geovanni’s presence means this team is serious about the chase for its first playoff spot since a return to the league in 2008.

“To have a real, top notch European player at 30 years old coming in is a treat for our guys and it’ll be a treat for our fans,” Yallop says.

The goalies have been interchanged for different reasons, the midfield has been a work in progress, the backline reshuffled semi-regularly, the forwards have been inconsistent scorers, and yet, the team is above five-hundred, and chasing the post-season.

What might it be like if everybody were available all the time? Oh my, that would be a treat for the players and the fans - and the broadcasters would be pretty pleased, too.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Shrader's Spin: KC a Must Win?

It’s not often you hear coaches and players talk in August about a “must win” game.

That’s about all the Quakes are talking about this week.

“Yes, at this point in the season, every point matters,” said defender Jason Hernandez. “When we’re at home we can’t afford to lose any more points.”

The Quakes had three home shutouts early in the season, but have no wins at Buck Shaw since May 8.

“I just want three points on Saturday,” said coach Frank Yallop. “We have to win on Saturday.”

The Wizards bring a relatively hot team to town this weekend, unbeaten in four straight. However, in the meantime, the Quakes have more injuries to deal with; Ramiro Corrales the latest of them, a knee injury that could keep him out a least a month.

“It’s easy to have a pity party about who is not here,” Hernandez said. “But that’s not our job. Our job is to get results. And we’re looking for that on Saturday.”

After a 1-0 home loss to Seattle two weeks ago, Yallop said he thought the team was playing scared at home, a comment he again uttered this week.

“Well, I am never going to disagree with the coach,” Hernandez says. “Whatever he says, I agree with. It’s the point now for us to express ourselves.”

Yallop says the Quakes need to attack more, be more aggressive, take the game to the opponent, “maybe with a little more attacking lineup, we’ll see.”

Newly acquired Khari Stephenson will almost certainly be in the lineup. He spent the last five years playing in Scandinavia, first in Sweden and then Norway, but says they wanted more of a “runner." Stephenson says he's more of a “technical” player.

“I asked my agent to find me a place to play in MLS,” he says. And, Stephenson says, this should be a good fit for him. “I can make the pass, can hold the ball, and shoot with both feet.”

Stephenson, who has 31 caps for Jamaica, was drafted out of Williams College in 2004 and spent a short time in MLS with Chicago and Kansas City.

“He’s very composed on the ball,” Hernandez says. “He’ll be a strong presence in the middle. He reminds me a bit of (New England’s) Shalrie Joseph.” Stephenson is a 6-foot-1 midfielder who doesn’t mind playing physically. Hernandez says, “we’re looking forward to what he can do.”

Whoever is in the lineup, Yallop says, they will work hard and get the job done. It doesn’t matter for how long they’ve played together, if at all: “I have no doubts whoever we pick will be organized and dynamic.”

And the players and coaches agree it’s a group that must provide a win.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Shrader's Spin: Remembring Ronald Cerritos

This quiet kid with the infectious smile from El Salvador showed up with more ambition than pedigree. Almost unheard of outside San Salvador, Ronald Cerritos came to the Clash in 1997 on loan from a small club, ADET.

No wonder long-time Spanish-language voice of the Quakes Carlos Cesar Rivera, who like Cerritos came here from El Salvador, was surprised the kid was an MLS All-Star in his first year.

“He didn’t have a name in El Salvadoran football,” Rivera said. “He was really unknown.”


Not for long. Cerritos scored 12 goals in 22 MLS games in his rookie year, including a goal in his debut against Los Angeles. It was a header from an Eddie Lewis cross.

“He was a little guy, but scored a lot in the box and a lot of header goals,” Rivera said.

He scored a lot of goals, period. Sixty-one of them in 148 games, and throw in 47 assists. He once had a goal or an assist in a league-record 11 straight games.

Not bad for a kid who wasn’t really a striker.

“He was brought in to play on the right side of the midfield,” said Earthquakes General Manager John Doyle, a former teammate of Cerritos.

“He made deceptive runs – he was not the fastest player, but he was quick and he
was deceptive,” Doyle said. “And he found ways to get the ball into the back of the net.”

In his first go-around in San Jose, five seasons, from 1997 to 2001, Cerritos led the team in goal scoring for every year he was fully healthy, including 15 goals in 1999.

He came to San Jose at a time when the club was not winning much, Doyle says, “so it was nice to see him help us win the title in 2001.”

Cerritos wasn’t always too sure of himself in his early days. He was shy. He wasn’t confident speaking in English; he didn’t have the resume of either of his celebrated countrymen in the league, Mauricio Cienfuegos or Raul Diaz Arce. Though there is a large Salvadoran community in the Bay Area – estimated at 200,000 – Cerritos wasn’t comfortable selling himself or the game in public, even to his compatriots.

And that may be a reason why he flew under the radar during a lot of his years in Major League Soccer. But wherever he was flying and whatever radar he was on, Ronald Cerritos scored goals.

“He had good instincts,” Doyle said. “He was good physically. His impact on this team was big.”

Cerritos returned for the 2005 season, but there were so many options on a team that would end the season with the best record in the league. Despite a smaller role, he still had six goals and nine assists.

“If you had a Clash-Quakes Dream Team,” says Rivera. “Ronald would certainly be on it, with Landon (Donovan), Doyle, Bravo and others.” Rivera says he thinks Cerritos is the best Latin American player the team has ever had.

Doyle is happy the club is recognizing Cerritos. And what’s more, Doyle has a little extra reason to like the club’s all-time leading scorer. When Doyle was the assistant for Dominic Kinnear in 2005, the head coach was sick one night in New York, and couldn’t make the game. “Ronald scored the goal in a 1-0 win,” he said. “I’m undefeated as a head coach thanks s to Ronald.”

That would bring a smile to the kid’s face.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Share Your 2010 FIFA World Cup Memory

Landon Donovan’s goal against Algeria in the 2010 FIFA World Cup was one of the greatest moments in U.S. Soccer history (VIDEO) and sparked dramatic reactions from fans across the United States that were captured via video in bars and living rooms across the country.

More than 2.8 million people have watched “The World’s Reaction to Landon Donovan’s Game Winning Goal,” video on YouTube which compiled those reactions from fans. Watching the video from South Africa, the team was blown away by the reaction and response of the fans.

Now, the U.S. players want to know exactly what that moment meant to you.

How did you react? Where were you? The U.S. players want to know.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Shrader's Spin: Tie with Galaxy is Bittersweet

The taste of a tie in Tinsel Town got a little sweeter in the hours after the Quakes 2-2 game in the Home Depot Center. When Landon Donovan scored in the 90th minute Thursday night, the Galaxy nabbed a point and took two out of the pockets of the Quakes, who twice had leads they couldn’t hold.

But, getting a point from the Galaxy isn’t such a bad thing, said most of the players afterward. Kinda. Sorta.

“It’s always nice to get a point from such a quality side,” said Brandon McDonald, who scored the goal that put the Quakes up 2-1. But… ”it’s always a punch in the gut when you’re up 2-1 and they score a goal late.”

Bobby Convey scored the other goal, a 2nd-minute shot that helped set the tone for this one. “Yes, I have mixed emotions,” he said of the draw, and getting a point in a tough venue. “It just shows how competitive we are this year. It’s a lot different than last year.”

How different than last year? One win and eight points on the road in 2009. So far in 2010: Three wins and 12 points away from home.

With three of the next four at home, it’s time for the Quakes to pick up the pace in Buck Shaw where they are just 3-2-2 this season.

Convey scored on the same day he got the call from the league office that he would be headed to the All-Star Game next week, replacing injured Jonathan Bornstein.

It's the first time the Quakes will be represented since their return to MLS in 2008.

He says he was mostly disappointed that the team had not received some recognition, “I don’t need someone else to tell me I’m an All-Star.”

“I feel like I play how I play and people can see what I do and make their own conclusion,” Convey said. “I try to do as well as I can and work as hard as I can. It’s nice to be mentioned as an All-Star and with the best players in the league.”

Convey has been among the most consistent players on this team this year. I think most of the players would throw Ramiro Corrales into that conversation as well.

The MLS All-Stars play Manchester United July 28 in Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

Brandon McDonald has three career MLS goals, and all of them have been scored at the Home Depot Center. He scored once as a member of the Galaxy and scored the others in LA as an Earthquake, against Chivas USA in 2009 and the Thursday night goal against the Galaxy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

27-game-ban for Choking Referee

Paraguayan soccer player Jose Pedroso received a 27-game suspension after putting his MMA skills to work on a referee during a Chilean second-division match. Pedroso went for the rear-naked choke hold, perhaps hoping that an impending yellow for a reckless challenge would disappear if the center ref tapped out.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Shrader's Spin: Busch the MOTM

Dramatic game-winning goals make the highlights, the goal-scorer gets heroic pats on the back and the headlines will flash his name.

In Philadelphia Arturo Alvarez got the game-winning goal, it went in the stats and he got the headline mentions, but anybody who watched the game knows that the number one hero of the Quakes 2-1 win at PPL Park was goalkeeper Jon Busch. It was Busch who made that last-minute game-winner possible.

“If not for him it would have been a different story,” Alvarez said. “We have to give it up to Busch for keeping us in the game.”

The sixth and most important second half save for Busch came just three minutes before Alvarez’s stoppage time winner. He took a point-blank, sure-fire goal away from Sebastian Le Toux.

“I just did my job,” Busch said in his typical team-first kind of awe-shucks manner. “At the end of the day that’s what I get paid to do. I get paid to make saves and catch crosses. Some games are busy and some games aren’t busy. I’m glad I could help this team and we got three points tonight.”

“As we always say, that’s why he’s there, that’s why the goalkeeper is there,” said coach Frank Yallop. “Jon didn’t panic and he looked good at everything he did.”

And what looks good is Busch’s 1-0-2 record as a starter and his 0.67 goals-against average. Take into consideration the 0-0 game at Salt Lake that certainly could have gone the Quakes way and the disappointing come-from-ahead tie at home against D.C. United and things might be different.

Frank Yallop on Saturday’s game with Tottenham Hotspur:
“We’ll play it like we’re playing any game. Whether we play 90 minutes for everybody, I don’t know. I’d like to get most of my guys on the field because I think playing against an opposition like that is a joy.

“I’d like to get some of my young guys some experience. Maybe we’ll talk to (Spurs Coach) Harry (Redknapp) and see what they’re going to do. We want to win the game and we want to entertain the crowd. We want to make sure Tottenham come in and play well and that we play well. It is a friendly, but it will be nice to get some guys experience.”

The Quakes now have identical home and road records (3-2-2). Yallop on why they’re playing much better on the road this year:

“They’re buying into the game plan. We try to tell them it’s okay to not have the ball a lot away from home as long as you’re defending well. We feel our road plan is great, we just have to get better at home. Maybe the injuries haven’t allowed us to be as good at home.”

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

In the News - Must Clicks

Need more evidence that US soccer is on the rise? Bob Bradley is a finalist for the Fulham FC head coaching vacancy. If selected, Bradley would become the first American coach in Europe.

On the American soccer on the rise note, AC Milan is eying Clint Dempsey. Could we see Dempsey teaming with Oguchi Onyewu in the Serie A?:

More marketing bucks spent by Nike to promote the World Cup, this time in an ode to the USMNT via the youth of America.

Have ye little faith? Apparently the Dutch Football Federation didn't believe in its Oranje - at least not enough to book a hotel through the final. Anybody have a free reservation in Johannesburg?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Boys in Blue are Back

The San Jose Earthquakes brought back a piece of history on Saturday, the iconic blue jersey.

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Kelly Gray: Finally Over the US Loss

Now that I am finally coming out of the depression that was induced by the US losing to Ghana, I thought it was about time that I got back to the issue at hand.

But before I do, I thought I would share a few thoughts on the US team’s World Cup experience. The first word that comes to mind is: Fail.

I know that the US had some success, but if you look at this World Cup in the grand scheme, it was a failure. This was a year US Soccer had a reasonable chance of getting to the semi-finals and they fell short.

Ok, enough about that. On to bigger and better things.

The quarterfinals have been very interesting. Uruguay was a bit of a surprise, as was Paraguay and Ghana, but all of the teams showed that they deserved to be there.

Surprisingly, the team that looked like they didn’t belong were Argentina. Germany absolutely handed it to them this morning and made their claim as the best team in the World Cup. Right now, it would be hard to argue that anyone is better than Germany.

The Netherlands are undefeated after a 2-1 victory over World Cup favorites Brazil and have to be considered a favorites to get past Uruguay and to each the final.

Now let’s talk players.

I would argue that the two greatest players in the World Cup so far have been Bastian Schweinsteiger of Germany and Wesley Sneijder of Netherlands. Both players have led their teams through each game with glimpses of flair and athleticism.

I have also been very impressed with David Villa, Andres Iniesta, Diego Forlan and Miroslav Klose. All of those players have made significant contributions with either goals or leadership on the field.

It should be interesting to see what happens when the World Cup is over. I wonder if any of these players will be making big money moves?

Stay tuned for more of my opinions and as always be sure to follow me on Twitter at @kelg22 and check my personal blog TheTotalFootballer. You can also email me at


Monday, June 28, 2010

Intersting Articles about US Soccer

The debate rages on - Will Bob Bradley be back? This and more in the following articles. Feel free to add your opinions by leaving a me crazy but I've got a feeling Bradley will be looking for work sometime soon after reading through the pertinent literature.

The New York Times says US soccer needs a Kobe Bryant (Thank you Captain Obvious. The article is essentially a celebrity viewpoint on how to grow soccer in America ala Mr. Bryant, which makes for an interesting read)

Found this on Kelly Gray's - Does US Soccer want Bob Bradley back?

Who says baseball is boring? With TVs tuned to the World Cup, fans in Kansas City entertained themselves while watching the Royals.

Jeff Carlisle looks ahead to which players might have a shot at the 2014 roster (Carlisle is apparently an Ike Opara fan. Good news for Quakes Nation).

Sunil Gulati isn't a happy camper. Bye bye Bradley?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Kelly Gray: Exciting Tournament for the USA

I am writing this as I watch the US vs. Ghana game. I am so nervous about the game that I had to pull out my computer and start writing. I thought that I would take a bit of a different approach to this entry and write as the game goes on.

So far I am really impressed with the difference that Mo Edu and Benny Feilhaber have made on the game. Dempsey is taking a beating, but keeps bouncing up and creating problems the Ghanaian defense. Michael Bradley might be the most important player on this US squad. His late runs out of midfield throw off even the stingiest of defenses.


We are in the 77th minute now and the game has slowed a little. I need to change the subject or I am going to go crazy.

Ok lets talk about Uruguay vs. South Korea. Uruguay, for being a really small country, has been a surprise to me. I mean, I think we all knew that Diego Forlan was a great player, but that is it right? I guess not. Clearly they have some serious talent. Watch out for them in the semis.


84th minute now and Jozy was so close to finishing his chance. The US attack is heating up a bit and I think that if we have to go to extra time our superior fitness level and our “never say die” attitude will see us prevail. Of course I say all of that assuming that we don’t make any glaring mistakes defensively.


Full time. Ok time to go to extra time. Bob Bradley has always been known for being a fitness fanatic. This is where all those extra fitness days will hopefully pay off.


NO !!! What is the deal? Why do we have such a problem realizing that the game has started? We always give up a goal early. Now we will really see what we are made of.


Halftime in extra time. Ok Boys. 15 minutes to get a goal. We can do it! Lets have a good start to the second half.

Ghana is playing very patient football. They are just trying to connect passes and kill the game off.


10 minutes left. I don’t like how the Ghana players are faking injuries just to kill more time. Just be honest and try to beat us fair and square. And now a sub taking his sweet time to get off the field. Come on Ghana. How about some class.


Game Over.

Well it was a good run and now the United States realizes that soccer is here to stay. I’m unbelievably proud of our boys and am excited for the future of US Soccer.

Stay tuned for more of my opinions and as always be sure to follow me on twitter at @kelg22 and check my personal blog TheTotalFootballer. You can also email me at


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kelly Gray: USA! USA! USA!

Now that's what I’m talking about. LD Stepped up and really showed that he is one of the best players in the world. The whole team really impressed me.

It seemed like Algeria kind of gave up and just wanted to stop the US from going through. That being the case, I am glad that we handed it to them.

And what is going on with these refs? I mean come on! Another goal called back for offsides when it was very clear that that wasn’t the case. I think people just have it out for our boys!

After watching all of the games thus far I am thinking that Holland are the frontrunners right now. They cruised to an easy win against Cameroon today, leaving the Orange undefeated thus far. I was really impressed with some of there play and the fact that they got Robben back today is a huge boost for them.

Defending champs Italy are out? And runners up France too? What is going on?

I have to say I am glad that France crumbled. They were all acting like little children and I was glad to see that it translated to the field.

Italy put up a good fight against Slovakia and came close to advancing, but I think in the end they just weren’t able to put the ball in the net, and, in this game, that is all that matters.

OK, on to what is really important…US vs. Ghana. I think this is a great matchup for our boys. I think that the US are looking forward to some payback for the last World Cup and coming off that dramatic win over Algeria, their confidence will be sky high.

Individually, our players are more talented and i's just a question of if we can put the right performance together.

I can’t wait for Saturday and will be wearing my red, white and blue!

Stay tuned for more of my opinions and as always be sure to follow me on twitter at @kelg22 and check my personal blog TheTotalFootballer. You can also email me at


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Tribute to the Bafana Bafana Macarena

South Africa might not have made it into the Round of 16, but their signature dance after scoring the inaugural goal of the 2010 World Cup left an impression in our hearts. If you haven't seen the Bafana Bafana Macarena, it goes a little like this:

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Frankly Speaking: My Countdown to Pandomonium

While still jaded by the afterglow of the most dramatic win in my U.S. Soccer history, I decided to share my journey through today's thriller. The thoughts in this blog are reflective of one man's opinion:

4 AM - Can't sleep. Too excited/nervous/ready to fist-pump the USA through to the Round of 16 to sleep.

4:54 AM - Laying in bed trying to will myself to sleep isn't working. Decided to get up and start logging significant points in my day for this blog. (well done so far, eh?)

5:13 AM - Played some old school FIFA on the PS2. Defeated Algeria 7-0. Good things to come?

6:35 AM - Will skip on the unnecessary details that led to me getting out the door. Onwards to The Brit in Downtown San Jose!

6:39 AM - I get a text from a coworker informing me that he's waiting in line to get into The Brit. Odds of finding a table indoors looks bleak.

6:50 AM - No tables left at The Brit. Line out the door. Lots of USA supporters. Looks to be a great atmosphere.

6:58 AM - Went straight to the patio in the back of The Brit. Found a seat near some diehard Quakes fans decked out in USA gear. Come on you Americans, let's do this thing!

6:59 AM - Why are the speakers blaring commentary from the England-Slovenia game? Nobody here wants to listen to Martin Tyler today!

7:03 AM - I've been informed that the speakers in the back were set up long before kickoff to only play the commentary from England-Slovenia. Epic fail for The Brit. I'm joining the exodus of American fans who want to watch and listen to USA-Algeria.

7:07 AM - Settled into a seat at Peggy Sue's. Bring on some pancakes & US goals.

7:21 AM - "Aww, that's horrible. He's not offsides!" There were plenty of expletives accompanying that voice of reason. Dempsey scores only to see the U.S. hit with another questionable, goal-denying call. Fifa 2, U.S. 0.

*Side note: WTF MATE?!?!?

7:47 AM - My original prediction was a pair of second-half goals for the USA. I shouldn't be so nervous then, right? Would rather I were wrong and the US went up 5-0 at the half. Not many words being spoken at Peggy Sue's during the break.

8:02 AM - Like seeing Feilhaber get on the field. Everything you got now boys!

8:14 AM - Dempsey hits the post. Tear :'( The USA is cursed.

8:24 AM - I need to change the mojo. (I'm crazy superstitious. During Little League games, I would strike a pose in the dugout when my team was at the plate. Hits meant I wouldn't move. Outs led to a change in posture. I still do this while watching games. It's slightly embarrassing, but makes me feel better.) Where better to find some good luck than the Irish Pub next door? To O'Flaherty's!

8:26 AM - So this is where that mob that left The Brit ended up...

8:35 AM - Why can't we just score? What's it going to take? I blame Bill Clinton. He should have sent the Secret Service at Algerian keeper Rais M'Bolhi a long time ago.

8:45 AM - DNSO#h89HAAiwbFPIIPEpa9w(W9bofWbioiOBFioFWq90h0h9 QWF(:PH) WEG:B(ABOegjehifHOWoAWoa@@*)*(FWj*%Gh09p308Q#HGbgW?!?!?!?!??!?!??!?!?!?!?

8:46 AM - I will never swear, drink or leave a nearly-emptied carton of milk in the refrigerator again...just please let the US score!




8:55 AM - OK, I'm good. WOW! Amazing finish. Cheers to Landon Donovan and 91st-minute miracles. Somebody strike up a song..."This Magic Moment" and "Na Na Hey Hey" come to mind.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Frankly Speaking: Do or Die

This is it. Do or die. Sink or swim. Round of 16 or heading home in embarrassing fashion to the disappointment of millions.

The U.S. is one win away from competing in the knockout phase, a single elimination battle royal that will determine the World Cup champion. No scoreboard watching for goal differentials - one win and you're in.

I would have doubled down last December if told the U.S. would only need a win against Algeria to reach the Round of 16. Algeria? C'mon now, seriously? That's it? No problemo.

Why then do I have the sweaty palms of a teenager awkwardly standing on the doorstep after a first date? So close to scoring, yet so far away.

The U.S. should beat Algeria. The game should be a relative cakewalk if FIFA on XBox player ratings hold true. (If only it were that simple, a couple taps of the "A" button followed by a slight hold-and-release of "B" and voila, goals galore.)

Maybe it's the first 45 minutes of uninspiring soccer the U.S. played against Slovenia or perhaps it's the porous back line, but I'm going to lose some sleep tonight waiting for what is one of the most significant matches in U.S. Soccer history.

Let's be real here, Corporate America has tossed some serious weight at soccer over the last few months. Millions of dollars have been spent on commercials with the world's biggest stars, pumping up the American public for what Nike, adidas and ESPN promised with $$$ would be an amazing tournament.

Here's the cold truth: No matter how many players Lionel Messi jukes or how many goals Wayne Rooney scores, what every American is aching to see is U.S. success.

I've heard my dad's soccer analysis enough to know that wins are what matter. Win and U.S. Soccer has a captive audience for at least one more match. Lose and every middle-of-the-road soccer fan will say, "The U.S. always chokes at the World Cup."

It's time for U.S. Soccer to step up to expectations or spend another four years wondering, "What if?"

Monday, June 21, 2010

Kelly Gray: Italy on the ropes? Second set of games adds flavor

Now, this is apparently where all of the teams start playing. Like I said in my last post, I was disappointed in the first round of games. Teams like Argentina, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Holland and Brazil really didn’t play up to their potential. The second round of games, though, has been different.

First we will start with the U.S. game. The first half was reminiscent of the 1998 World Cup team. The Americans gave up an early goal and couldn’t string any passes together. The U.S. looked like they were out of their league. To Slovenia’s credit, their first goal was an amazing strike.

The second half was completely different. I couldn’t believe it was the same team that came out the first half. The U.S. were working together, getting chances, and doing all of the dirty work that it wasn’t doing in the first half.

I was particularly impressed with both goal scorers. Landon really stepped up and led the charge for the comeback. His goal was typical of Landon - calm, collected and placed perfectly into the net.

Michael Bradley was connecting passes, breaking up plays and his goal was the end result of some amazing play by the U.S. I love seeing him push into the attack and if he keeps making that third-man run then he is going to cause a lot of problems for the Algerian defense.

Onto the other teams. Portugal absolutely handed it to the North Koreans. I mean 7-0, damn. That is a butt kicking, and if you saw the highlights, all of the goals were good goals. If they continue to play like that then watch out for the Portuguese.

Brazil played very calm football with some glimpses of the Samba Boys and created some beautiful goals. Even if Luis Fabiano’s second strike was a handball, it was still a beautiful goal.

Italy is on the verge of being knocked out of the tournament and they will be if they keep playing the boring football that they have the last two games.

Holland is still playing pretty well. I really want to see Robin van Persie take over a game and be the leader for the Dutch.

Spain played some of the best soccer I have seen so far in their game against Honduras. If they keep that up they actually might live up to the expectations that the Spanish people have for their team.

Ok…that is enough for today. As always follow me on twitter @kelg22 and be sure to check The Total Footballer for the latest in the footballer lifestyle. Please email me at

Friday, June 18, 2010

Frankly Speaking: Robbed? Koman Coulibali snatches win from U.S.

Heartbroken. Hopeful. Elated. Robbed. Relieved.

You can use any number of adjectives to describe the way U.S. fans feel after that 2-2 draw with Slovenia. It was a roller-coaster ride of emotions.

First, I was absolutely heartbroken. At the half I thought the U.S. World Cup was over. All the talk about soccer finally growing roots in American culture, millions of dollars spent in advertising by ESPN, adidas and other agencies, would vanish after two measly games.

Next came hope after Landon Donovan roofed a brilliant goal. I moved to the edge of my seat after that strike - it brought back memories of Luis Fabiano finding net in the 46th minute to spark Brazil to a 3-2 comeback win over the U.S. in the 2009 Confederations Cup. Maybe this time it would be the Americans finding that second-half swagger?

When Michael Bradley volleyed in the equalizer in the 83rd minute, I got chills. The standing-room only crowd at The Brit in Downtown San Jose erupted. Chants of "USA! USA! USA" bounced around the room, fans high-fived and hugged as the U.S. resurrected its World Cup hopes.

However, it was the 86th minute that will linger in every American's mind. A silence filled the room as the ball hung in the air, destined for U.S. glory at the foot of Maurice Edu - then jubilation.

"This is it. This is that magic moment U.S. soccer has needed. That epic, highlight-reel comeback win that lives forever," I thought.

Then came the tragic news. Offside.

(It turns out the call was actually a foul on Carlos Bocanegra. Bocanegra, coincidentally, was in a headlock during that play.) (Edit: Check that, the foul, as of 10:24 a.m. PT has been changed to Edu. We'll keep you posted as this mystery whistle continues to evolve.)

Malian referee Koman Coulibali (Now trending worldwide on Twitter) spoiled what would have been the best match of the 2010 World Cup to date, but at least the U.S. are still alive.

Perhaps against Algeria the U.S. won't allow a 2-0 halftime deficit. For now, U.S. fans should feel relieved - after all, the Americans were 45 minutes away from elimination.

Let's hope that sense of urgency never leaves.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

World Cup Day 7 Updates

  • Argentina secured their spot in the Round of 16 with a 4-1 drubbing of South Korea at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg. Gonzalo Higuaín scored a hat trick for the Argentines, moving into the early lead for the tournament's Golden Boot.
  • Greece took advantage of a Nigerian red card to come from behind for a 2-1 win. Sani Kaita was sent off in the 33rd minute after kicking Greece's Vasilis Torosidis during a deadfall on the sideline. Kaita was retaliating after a shove, lost his composure and took a swipe with his foot at Torosidis. The straight red negated any momentum Nigeria had built after taking a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute. Greece won its first-ever World Cup match and also scored for the first time.
  • Group B set itself up for a rather interesting final day after the Argentina and Greece results. Argentina has all but locked up a trip to the Round of 16, but all three teams below are in play to advance. South Korea would lock up a Round of 16 berth by defeating Nigeria followed by a Greek loss or draw to Argentina.
  • Mexico pulled away from France for a 2-0 result. Javier "El Chicharito" Hernández made a darting run through the French back line and collected a through-ball for a 1-v-1 in the area. The Mexican striker cut back to beat the keeper and then placed a shot into the back of the net for what would become the game's decisive goal.
  • Group A is all but set with Uruguay and Mexico sitting atop with four points each. France would need a 4-0 win over South Africa and a Mexican loss to re-enter the equation. South Africa are poised to become the first host nation not to advance to the Round of 16 in the history of the World Cup.

Kelly Gray: First Impressions

Every team has now played at least one game. Personally I have been a bit disappointed with the majority of play.

Germany seems to be the team to beat right now. They came out and made a statement. I mean 4-0 against anyone is a beating, but in a World Cup it's a whole other story.

I thought Australia would put up a much better fight and I still can’t believe that Tim Cahill got a red card. I mean come on. If you're the star of the team and a veteran, you should be more professional than to get thrown out of your team’s first game. You are supposed to make a point in your first game, and the point shouldn’t be ,“We will be back in 4 years.”

OK, on to the U.S. game. I think the U.S. actually could have won that game. I was utterly unimpressed by England and thought that we had better possession. Robby Findley had some great touches, but I want to see him be more dangerous. Jozy had a great chance and I think he has to build on that in the next game. For me though, Timmy Howard is the MVP. He is amazing and stepped up every time he was called upon.

Brazil was unimpressive, except for Maicon’s goal. North Korea scored a great one and looks like they could compete with some of the better teams in the tournament. Italy was boring and was lucky to tie up the game. Spain had some exciting play but couldn’t put the ball in the net. Argentina played some sporadic soccer, and Lionel Messi looked dangerous. He was foiled every time though by the outstanding play of the Nigerian keeper.

I loved seeing former Quake Simon Elliott and the Kiwis tie up the game against Slovakia 1-1 in the 93rd minute.

Uruguay came out and really played some exciting football. Diego Forlan is making a play for tournament MVP and as of right now has scored the goal of the tournament.

This is what I love about this tournament: Everyday things could change. It only takes one game.

Stay tuned for more of my opinions and as always be sure to follow me on twitter at @kelg22 and check my personal blog TheTotalFootballer. You can also email me at


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Frankly Speaking: Komac guarantees more than he can deliver

Why do athletes do this to themselves?

Andrej Komac, a reserve for Slovenia, has guaranteed victory against the U.S. on Friday, an unnecessary jab that will undoubtedly become locker room fodder for the Americans.

I don't mind that Komac is confident. Any player who believes his team is going to lose shouldn't be on the field. However, there's something to be said about modesty and keeping such wishful dreams to oneself.

Let's be real here: Komac is a substitute, an otherwise unnoticed cog in the Slovenian machine. He's playing for a team that just won its first match in World Cup history. His only noteworthy moment at this World Cup - ridiculous prediction notwithstanding - has been a yellow card against Algeria.

Slovenia should enjoy its time atop the Group C table because it may be short lived. A quick rundown of what I saw on Sunday:
In summation, Slovenia needed a lucky goal while playing against 10 men in order to defeat a weak team. Anybody else unimpressed? Before making any noise on the world's stage, please register some meaningful qualifications.

Andrej Komac, consider yourself on blast - if you even see the field - when the U.S. plays Slovenia on Friday.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

U.S. Starting XI According to Frank Yallop & John Doyle

The U.S. will play England in Group C action from the FIFA World Cup in South Africa on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. (ABC, ESPN3). A pair of Quakes staff weighed in on what they thought the U.S. lineup should look like. Let's have a look:

John Doyle's XI:





Analysis: Buddle has a hot foot right now and gets the start alongside Altidore. Donovan and Dempsey are a given. Holden is a quality distributor and can create dangerous opportunities. Onyewu is the big question mark - the U.S. needs a healthy back line to match up with England's high-profile attackers.

Frank Yallop's XI:





Analysis: Why not start Buddle? He's been scoring all year and gets the nod up top after putting two in against a quality Australian side. Dempsey are creators and will provide the U.S. some spark from all areas of the field. Donovan especially has a very high work rate and will need to be at the top of his game for the U.S. to be successful. Goodson gets the nod over a banged-up Onyewu, but obviously Gooch gets the start if he's fit. He didn't look the part in the American's first exhibition so we'll have to see what his future holds.

John Doyle is the General Manager of Soccer Operations for the San Jose Earthquakes. He has been an active participant at nearly every level of the game - as a player for the U.S. at the 1990 World Cup; as a coach for the San Jose Earthquakes; as a commentator for Comcast; and now as the GM and resident expert for the Quakes.

Frank Yallop is the head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes. He was born in Watford, England (where current U.S. National Team member Jay DeMerit suits up) and had a playing career that began at Ipswich Town in England and ended with the now defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny of MLS. Yallop has had a successful career as a coach, winning two MLS titles with the Quakes and heading the Canadian National Team for better than two years.

South African Goal Celebration: The Bafana Bafana Macarena

Loved this goal celebration. Bafana Bafana baby!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Kelly Gray: Let it Begin

I have been looking forward to this day for the last four years and it is finally here. The World Cup begins Friday with the match between the host nation, South Africa, and our southern neighbors, Mexico.

I will be waking up at 4:30 a.m. to get the tournament started the right way. Am I crazy? Perhaps, but this event only happens once every four years and I want to take in every second of it.

I am going to be blogging about the tournament for the next month and wanted to start the festivities with my thoughts on who has a chance at winning this thing.

Without seeing how all the teams start the tournament, Spain and Argentina are my favorites to take the trophy. Both teams have big-name players who have experience competing in some of the biggest games in the world.

That said, you can’t sleep on Holland, Germany, France or England. Now I hope England loses their first game, but lets be honest, they play some good football and I would love to see them progress in the tournament along with the U.S.

As for the U.S., I think we have put together the best team we have had in a long time. All of the players are in spectacular form right now and if the U.S. start well against England, the sky is the limit.

I think the U.S. have to be sure not to take Slovenia and Algeria for granted, but those should be two wins for America.

I am realjavascript:void(0)ly looking forward to seeing Landon step up and be the true leader of our team. I am a little worried about our team defensively, but hope that Timmy Howard will continue to make the big saves when called upon.

Ok folks. That’s all for now so please be sure to check back every couple days for my next entries.

Be sure to follow me on twitter at #kelg22 and check my personal blog TheTotalFootballer. You can also email me at


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Beta Tests the Jabulani for NASA

Steven Beitashour became the first San Jose Earthquakes player to visit the moon on Monday - errr, well he's probably the closest to reaching the moon after taking a trip to the Ames Research Center at Moffett Field in Mountain View, Calif. Beta was the testing subject for a research project using the official ball of the 2010 World Cup, the infamous Jabulani.

(Note: Yes, we know the Jabulani is not used in every clip of this video. There were multiple soccer balls used in the filming if this segment.)

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Friday, June 4, 2010

Caption Contest - Win Two Quakes Tickets!

Write in a caption for this picture from Wednesday's 2-2 draw against the Columbus Crew. The two best responses will win tickets to a Quakes home match in 2010 (either the Sept. 15 home game against the Phildaelphia Union or Sept. 29 vs. the Chicago Fire). Let's hear what you've got! (Hint: If you post anonymously, we will not be able to contact you. If you want to win the tickets, please leave contact info)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pelada Screening: Check Out This Amazing Documentary

NEW Pelada Trailer from Rebekah Fergusson on Vimeo.

I can tell you that this documentary is a must-see for every soccer fan. Two students from Duke wrap up their college playing careers and decide to chase the game from from country to country, playing pick-up matches along the way with anybody who would have them.

Take a look at the trailer to get a taste of their journey. The viewing will be Thursday, June 3 in San Francisco. Details below:

San Francisco Premiere of Pelada
Thursday, June 3rd
8:00 p.m. - Victoria Theatre
2961 16th Street (one block from BART)
San Francisco, CA

Q&A with director Rebekah Fergusson after the screening. DVDs will be available for purchase.

TICKETS: $10.00
Cash/Check at the door or BUY TICKETS ONLINE:


What they'res saying about Quakes-Columbus

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Columbus Crew
7 p.m. (sun or no sun) at Buck Shaw Stadium

Monday, May 31, 2010

Shrader's Spin: Bump in the Road

Humbling. Disappointing. Not necessarily perplexing.

The effort in the first half may be perplexing, not necessarily the result. We’re talking here about Saturday’s 3-1 home loss to Toronto FC.

It was a battle between two hot teams, and it was the Quakes who got cold early. The first strike was a sun-aided TFC goal. (Chad Barrett scored when Jason Hernandez and Joe Cannon mis-communicated on a ball that Cannon said he lost in the sun.)

The game’s final goal was a rare empty-netter. With Cannon in the offensive end for series of corners – and his team down 2-1 – Dwayne DeRosario scored without opposition.

I think we can agree the Quakes are a better team than they were the last two years. I think it’s also certain they are not quite championship contenders…yet.

Confidence is a big part of success in life. It’s what fueled the Quakes to their four-game unbeaten streak, which included nearly 400 minutes of scoreless defense.

But that swagger can disappear as quickly as the California rainy season. The rain is gone, most likely until about October. You’d better hope the Quakes thump their chests much sooner. Oh, about Wednesday night would be good, when the Quakes host Columbus.

The Crew got beat by two goals at home Saturday night, just like the Quakes. They consider themselves contenders and they’ll want to prove it at Buck Shaw Stadium, after losing to the Galaxy at Crew Stadium, 2-0.

So, in many respects this is the best match-up for the Quakes to come back from a second home loss. Not much prep time, but an opponent that gets your attention, and they have something to prove.

Turn that humility into anger and turn that anger into resolve. And turn that resolve into a win that would put the Quakes back into second place in the West.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Frankly Speaking: US-Turkey Observations

If I learned anything from Saturday's match, I'm going to need a constant flow of early-morning drinks when the U.S. plays in South Africa.

For the first 45 minutes, I wondered whether USA Soccer would give a Seattle-like refund to fans in attendance for what looked to be an embarrassing sendoff party.

Then, in a second-half transformation reminiscent of last summer's Confederation's Cup result against Egypt, the U.S. showed why it's among the picks to reach the Round of 16.

Here are some notes from the match & more as I head out the door to Buck Shaw Stadium for Round II of Soccer Saturday in San Jose.

  • Did New Zealand really beat Serbia? Shocking stuff, but good for former Quakes player Simon Elliott and his squad. (BTW, I'm obsessed with the Haka so I couldn't resist the chance to toss in this video. How hardcore is that dance? Gets me pumped up just watching...maybe we can convince fellow Kiwi and Quakes goalkeeper coach Jason Batty to bring the Haka to San Jose...)
  • Team USA went Jekyll & Hyde today. I wore a sad face during the first half, but turned that frown upside down in the latter 45
  • Pass me some Findley Crow, please. Now let's see if he can be consistently dangerous
  • Not sure what I like more: The Dow Jones or the U.S. back four
  • Cherundolo over Spector
  • Dempsey at outside mid over Dempsey at forward
  • Onyewu at 80% over Goodson at 100%
  • Torres over Clark
  • Zakumi over Wenlock and Mandeville
  • "Q" over Wenlock and Mandeville (Honestly, creepiest looking mascots in recent memory. They look like those ill-conceived bad guys from the Power Rangers)

Lunch. Driving range. Buck Shaw. Catch me on Twitter.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Quakes Host Toronto TFC

The Quakes will host Toronto FC on Saturday at 7 p.m. For full game-day coverage visit If you want "The Spin", stay tuned for coverage on The Core.

For now, listen in as John Shrader interviews Frank Yallop from the training pitch.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Behind the Scenes with Comcast Sports Net

Darren Brazil was in the Quakes Front Office on Wednesday to interview Chris Wondolowski and General Manager of Soccer Operations John Doyle. Here's a behind-the-scenes look:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

USMNT World Cup Roster Announced

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment!

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, England), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton, England), Tim Howard (Everton, England).

OPINION: No surprises here. We all knew this was set.

Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes, France), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover, Germany), Jay DeMerit (Watford, England), Clarence Goodson (IK Start, Norway), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan, Italy), Jonathan Spector (West Ham, England).

OPINION: Onyewu looked shaky against the Czech Republic last night. Would had liked to see Chad Marshall make the cut for two reasons: 1) Another big body in the back as insurance for Onyewu and, 2) Because the Quakes play Columbus next week.

Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach, Germany), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt, Germany), Clint Dempsey (Fulham, England), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus, Denmark), Stuart Holden (Bolton, England), Jose Torres (Pachuca, Mexico).

OPINION: Wasn't surprised by any of these selections. Keep an eye on how coach Bob Bradley decides to use Dempsey - does he slide Demps up to forward or keep him in the midfield? I'm a big fan of the attack-minded José Torres and Stuey. Donovan-Bradley-Dempsey with locks on starting spots. Who wins the last central midfield spot, Edu or Clark?

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Hull, England), Edson Buddle (Los Angeles), Robbie Findley (Salt Lake), Herculez Gomez (Puebla, Mexico).

OPINION: It's nice to see a pair of MLS faces here. Might have liked an extra defender (See: Chad Marshall) over Findley, but perhaps this suggests that we won't see Dempsey at forward. Why take the fourth forward if Dempsey is going to move up front? On the positive side, Findley is a guy who can come off the bench late and provide a spark with his pace. Gomez and Buddle have each had quite a run just to be considered. Neither was on the USMNT radar until recently. After Gomez scored last night, you knew he had to be on the roster. The big question is: Who pairs best with Jozy?

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment!

Landon Donovan ESPN Sportscenter commercial

I thought the Jozy Altidore commercial was better, but this is worth a look (even if it is an L.A. Galaxy player. As long as he's wearing the red, white and blue, we'll let that slide).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

U.S. vs. Czech Republic

The U.S. lineup is in:

GK - Guzan
D - Cherundolo (c), Goodson, Onyewu, Bornstein
MF: Holden, Edu, Torres, Beasley
F: Buddle, Johnson

Subs: Hahnemann, Spector, Ching, Clark, Kljestan, Pearce, Marshall, Rogers, Findley, Bedoya, Gomez

Will be interesting to see how Buddle stacks up on the international level in his first appearance since a 2003 friendly against Venezuela...

Glad to see José Torres get a shot in the starting XI. He hasn't seen the field much for the USMNT, but I wouldn't mind seeing more of what he can offer. Could turn into a late-game sub to infuse offense...

Love me some Stuart Holden. Nigel De Jong be damned...

How is Oguchi Onyewu's fitness? Onyewu believes he's ready to go. Time to find out...

Shrader's Spin: Quakes Have a Bounce to Their Step

Food tastes a little better….the air feels a little cleaner….there’s a little more giddy-up in your step….such is the case when your team has 16 points from eight games, including five wins. It’s pretty tough to lose – indeed, impossible – when you’re riding a streak of four consecutive shutouts.

We’re talking about the team that many in Major League Soccer consider to be the surprise team of the 2010 season, the San Jose Earthquakes.

“Yeah, some are probably surprised,” said defender Chris Leitch. “But not

Leitch said there is not a lot that separates the best teams
and the bottom teams.

“We changed a couple of small components, maybe some attitude things.”

And, Leitch said, they have the benefit of the same coaching staff for three years: “Guys are familiar with each other and that shows.”

A team that allowed 50 goals a year ago, blowing a handful of leads late, has allowed only seven goals in eight games (three in each of their two losses.) They have been especially difficult late in games, allowing only an 87th-minute goal during desperation time at Chivas USA, which was the last time a ball got past goalkeeper Joe Cannon – 363 minutes ago.

“It’s something we stress in training, defensive shape,” said central back Bobby Burling, who has played four games this season, all shutouts. “It's one-through-11, the forwards, then the midfielders pushing and us cleaning up the back.”

“A lot of blocked shots, a lot of blocked passes, a lot of blocked crosses,” said Cannon, who now has 73 career shutouts, second best in league history. “That’s a testament to the guys on this team.”

So maybe the Quakes aren’t surprised by their defensive successes. Maybe they’re not surprised by their five wins and second place standing in the West. But c’mon, Chris Wondolowski leading the team with five goals? And he didn’t even play in the first two games of the season.

“Hey, we have a great team and I’ve been the beneficiary of the chances,” Wondolowski said. “None have been individual, unbelievable things. It’s all been team build-up, great passes.” And for Wondo, it’s about finishing. And many on this team believe he’s their best finisher.

“We have confidence and belief in our team,” he said, after their 1-0 win at Seattle. “Belief that we can beat any team, that we can go out and get three points on the road. Not just ties on the road, but wins.”

Now, it’s two at home (Toronto and Columbus), one on the road (Dallas) over an eight-day span, then a three-week World Cup break.

“We want to take this momentum back to Buck Shaw Stadium,” Burling said. “We’re trying to take that back to the home fans.”

Back to Buck Shaw, where the food tastes a bit better and the air is a little fresher. And many of the fans probably aren’t surprised. These fans know what a contender looks like.

Monday, May 24, 2010


If you're a fan of Temryss Lane - and I sure am - check out this MLS exclusive. The folks from Fox Football Fone-In were in the house for a special episode of The Daily...

Have you seen the latest Nike World Cup commercial? Anybody find it a bit curious that NIKE chose Ronaldinho even though the Brazilian didn't make the cut for his nation's World Cup roster? Apparently marketing clout prevailed...

I thought this was an interesting take on whether soccer will take off in the U.S. after the World Cup. How important is winning for soccer to become mainstream in America? It's an interesting point - does the U.S. Men's National Team need to be the best in the world before Americans take notice? Would the American public take notice if the USMNT won the World Cup? Interesting debate...

Speaking of the World Cup, how about this grand opening ceremony? I will trade Quakes gear for one of those sweet vuvuzelas!

Frankly Speaking: Joe Cannon Gives a Thumbs Up

Joe Cannon is one of the most competitive guys on the Quakes, but he also has a goofy side. On Saturday, Joe put a comical twist on one of the timeless traditions in soccer, the pre-game photo shoot.

All jokes aside, Cannon is enjoying a renaissance of sorts with four clean sheets in-a-row. He has even made a number of highlight-reel saves (See: Example A, Example B, and Example C) and is one of the primary reasons San Jose is tied for second in the Western Conference.

After the Quakes let in a league-high 50 goals in 2009, a Cannon-led defense has emerged as one of the best in MLS this season.

What's gotten into the 35-year-old keeper? Cannon credits a tough pre-season training regimen for the Quakes overall fitness. A winning locker room is certainly a lot more fun to be in than a losing one.

Cannon has a lot to be proud of these days, including fellow Santa Clara University alumnus Steven Nash.

How about this pop-culture flowchart:
Cannon and Nash attended SCU together for two years before pursuing their own professional careers > Nash helped lead the Phoenix Suns to a win over the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday evening > Los Angeles happens to be San Jose Earthquakes fans' least-favorite city > David Beckham roots for the Lakers and plays for the Galaxy, which obviously means Quakes Nation is anti-Lakers and pro-Steve Nash/Phoenix Suns/Santa Clara University/Joe Cannon > Nash's dad was born in the Tottenham district of London and is a dedicated Tottenham Hotspur fan > Tottenham Hotspur is the partner club of the San Jose Earthquakes.

Whether Steve Nash knows it or not, he is a San Jose Earthquakes fan.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Match Week Training Notebook

*The Hamstring Crew (Arturo Alvarez, Ike Opara and Steven Beitashour) are each fit to play this weekend in Seattle.

*Arturo Alvarez participated in team drills Wednesday through Friday and looked sharp in his first on-field action since a hamstring strain in the U.S. Open Cup Play-In match against Real Salt Lake on April 14.

*Joey Gjertsen missed Tuesday’s practice session and had a light week after a quad strain, but was on the pitch Friday. Gjertsen figures to make his sixth-straight start on Saturday.

*Saturday's match is a homecoming for Joey-G. The Washington native grew up 40 minutes from Seattle and expects a large contingent of Gjertsenites wearing the black and blue at Qwest Field.

*Andre Luiz missed training on Tuesday and Wednesday, but participated on Friday and is expected to get the start.

* Frank Yallop: “The best thing about going to Seattle, I usually get to see my family when we’re up there and that’s always good. The worst thing, they’re a pretty good team.”

*Expect to see the same lineup that has started over the last three weeks, Yallop added.

*19 players traveled to Seattle. That list includes:

Joe Cannon, Jon Busch

Defenders: Chris Leitch, Jason Hernandez, Bobby Burling, Ramiro Corrales, Ike Opara, Steven Beitashour

Midfielders: Bobby Convey, Andre Luiz, Brandon McDonald, Joey Gjertsen, Brad Ring, Justin Morrow

Forwards: Ryan Johnson, Chris Wondolowski, Arturo Alvarez, Scott Sealy, Cornell Glen

Have a question about the Quakes? Leave a comment!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Shrader's Spin: Defense Gelling


Three shutouts in-a-row. Three games plus three minutes without allowing a goal.

Pretty impressive stuff for a team that had only three shutouts during the ENTIRE 2009 season. Goalkeeper Joe Cannon now has 72 career shutouts; only Kevin Hartman has more in the history of Major League Soccer.

“It’s not just the defenders,” Cannon said. “It’s everybody in front of me.”

“We’re just trying not to let the guys play the ball out of the back very easily,” said forward Ryan Johnson. “And we try to take away the defensive midfielder.”

Johnson said he and the other forwards - right now he’s partnered with Chris Wondolowski - try to be disruptive on the field. “We try to do the work defensively,” Johnson says. “We’re team players and we want to help each other out.”

Bobby Burling has started in each of the three shutouts, and he agrees you stop the other team with an 11-man defensive effort.

“Our defensive shape starts with the forwards,” he said. “As long as everybody is talking and cutting off angles and making plays hard for (the other team), it makes it a lot easier on the back four.”

This week, it’s a trip to Seattle where Sounders FC comes off a 1-0 win at New York. One week prior, Seattle lost at home to the Galaxy, 4-0.

“Three shutouts in-a-row aren’t going to help us in the Lion’s Den,” Cannon said. “You know Seattle will be hungry to come at us.”

The Quakes made two trips to Seattle last year, going oh-for-the-Great-Northwest. But Cannon says this team is different, this bunch is more mature. “We have a group that can handle themselves,” he says.

MLS teams are finding the Quakes a difficult team to break down, even on the road. Take away a half at Chivas USA and they have been tough to beat on the road and have outscored their home opponents 7-0 since losing 3-0 on opening night.

“From top to bottom it’s been a great team effort,” said defender Jason Hernandez. “And it’s showing in these clean sheets.”

Recapping Wondolowski's Four-Game Scoring Streak

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Shrader's Spin: An Unlikely Partnership

May 7, 2010: An Unlikely Partnership

They are the most unlikely of scoring duos. They weren’t even a duo until the third week of the season, a partnership created out of necessity. And they’ve helped the Quakes win three of four, outscoring their opponents 9-3, and doing their best to assist the defensive effort in three shutouts.

Ryan Johnson and Chris Wondolowski. What were the odds? These two guys, a forward tandem? And the man they call Wondo is the third-leading scorer in the league. He has now scored in a team-record four-consecutive games.

And who knows how long it lasts? To use a surfing metaphor, the Quakes will ride this wave as long as they can.

Johnson and Wondolowski are keeping guys like proven MLS scorers Cornell Glen and Scott Sealy on the bench, and doing a whole lot to overcome the absence of Arturo Alvarez, who it seems was just about to bust out before a hamstring injury sidelined him three weeks ago.

It’s all about the depth on this team now. It was a major focus of General Manager John Doyle and Coach Frank Yallop in the off-season.

“This is one of the deepest teams I’ve ever been a part of,” Wondolowski said. “When you have guys pushing you, it makes you better.”

Johnson, too, says the competition is good for everybody, “It keeps everybody hungry,” he says. “It keeps everybody on their toes.”

Wondolowski says all the talent on this team, “makes you want to work harder, to stay longer, to try to improve as much as you can.”

Through seven weeks of the season (the Quakes have two games in hand on many of the teams in the league) only two players have more goals than Wondo, Galaxy’s Edson Buddle (9) and Toronto’s Dwayne DeRosario, (6).

“He’s as good as any forward we have here, including me,” Johnson says of his forward partner. “It’s just that he took (advantage of) his opportunities, and he’s putting them away. He deserves every goal he’s getting because he works just as hard as everyone.”

Johnson led the Quakes with 11 goals last year, and he finally got on in the back of the net, against the Red Bulls in their 4-0 win last Saturday.

Johnson also had two assists in that game, and now has four assists to go along with his one goal this season. Johnson may have played in his best all around game, against New York. He was holding the ball, passing it deftly and keeping his defensive position. [New York played a man down for about 75 minutes of the game.]

These guys are raising their game and a whole lot of eyebrows early in this 2010 season.

Shrader's Spin: Captain Ramiro Still Going Strong

May 7, 2010: Captain Ramiro Still Going Strong

Fifteen seasons of Major League Soccer and a half-dozen men who played in season No. 1 remain in the league. One of them is a San Jose Earthquake, Ramiro Corrales.

And he’s playing pretty well right now. Not the fastest, not the biggest, not the youngest guy on the field. But, “He’s savvy, he gets in the right spots and he doesn’t get exposed,” coach Frank Yallop said of his 33-year-old captain.

“Not many of us left,” Corrales said of the class of ’96. “I’m blessed I’m still healthy and able to play.”

And he’s a better player than he was when he came off the campus of North Salinas High School 14 years ago with all that energy and those young legs. 

“(It’s) experience; when I was 18 I got beat more than I do now because I was so anxious to win the ball. But now I take my time, wait for the right moment to go in and close the ball down.”

The list of players Corrales has been a part of closing down this year is impressive; guys like Patrick Nyarko of Chicago, Sainey Nyassi of New England and Colorado’s Omar Cummings.  “You have to be focused and be alert,” he said. “And Bobby (Convey) has done a good job in front of me.”

Corrales spent a considerable time in the midfield the last two years, but he’s more of a natural left back, which is where he’s been for every game this season. That’s where Yallop wanted to play him all along, but put Corrales in the midfield out of necessity.  “That’s where I played the most throughout my career,” Corrales said. “I played left back for all three years I was in Norway.”

Most teams who come into Buck Shaw Stadium look at the backline and think if they’re going to expose someone with their speed, it’s Corrales. And he gets the best of them nearly every time.

“He’s frustrating to play against,” Yallop said. “He’s a good pro, and he’s making it difficult to play against. He’s playing well right now. I thought last game (a 1-0 win over Colorado) he played great.”

Corrales said he’s not really a vocal captain, but he tries to get the guys going, get them in the right frame of mind. It’s really more subtle than rah-rah, more about hard work and about a guy doing his job.

“Hopefully the young guys take notice,” he said. “And see that after 15 years I’m still working hard.”

Hard to miss that message - it’s on display at left back every night the Quakes take the field.

Shrader's Spin: Grand Opening

April 30, 2010: Grand Opening

George Best didn’t have one. Not Paul Child before him, not Landon Donovan nor John Doyle, nor any of the hundreds of players who were with the San Jose Earthquakes of any era, or with the San Jose Clash. None of them had their own training facility, a home practice field they could call their own.

Until now.

“For me it’s a great day,” said General Manager of Soccer Operations John Doyle, the East Bay native who played and coached for the Clash and Quakes. “I’ve been excited for this day since I was a young player.”

This, Doyle is talking about, is Friday’s grand opening of the Nutrilite Training Facility on Coleman Avenue in San Jose. It sits right next to the piece of land on which the Quakes are hoping to build a stadium soon.


“There have been a lot of good teams and good players to come through this place who never had the privilege of having this,” said defender Jason
Hernandez. “And it truly is a privilege.” Doyle says it seems like such a small thing to have what he calls “a piece of grass that your team can practice on.” But, “to have a world class field and facility like this is great for us.”

The Nutrilite Training Facility has a big, beautifully manicured field, plus side space for the goalies and for other more individual work.

“We’re excited. It’s a place to call home,” Hernandez said. “To have a place to hone your skills, to get better. It’s a place we can count on.”

And there are some big picture advantages, Doyle says, such as a place for the U.S. National Team to practice when in town.

“It’s just a down payment,” said San Jose mayor Chuck Reed, on hand for the grand opening. “Just the first step,” in the great history of this site. Reed said, “We’re going to do everything we can,” to make sure a stadium gets built nearby.

“The sky’s the limit,” Hernandez said.

“It does get you excited,” Doyle said. “If you’re the general manager, or a fan, or you simply love soccer like I do.”

Shrader's Spin: Blind-sided on Opening Day

March 28, 2010: Blind-sided on Opening Day

So, we didn’t see that coming. Nobody did.

Not Jason Kreis, the coach of Real Salt Lake. (They won only two games on the road all last season, until they won two games on the road in the playoffs.) 

Not coach Frank Yallop of the Earthquakes.

Not the players. Not the media. Not the fans.

Opening night was a stinker for the Quakes, not much of an argument from anybody, except maybe that group of drum-pounding RSL fans in the southwest corner of the stadium. 3-0 RSL, says the scoreboard.

“There’s not much that I can say, positively, defensively,” said Yallop, always the standup guy. “It looked like defensively, we were a shambles.”

Yallop was forced to take two of his high-profile guys, midfielders Bobby Convey and Javier Robles, out of the game at halftime.

After the Quakes were reduced to ten men–when Chris Leitch was red carded on the play that helped set up the Morales free kick goal–the Qs seemed to gain some footing, and had some decent chances to score (from Cornell Glen, Arturo Alvarez and Andre Luiz).  The team that is getting outplayed, though, doesn’t seem to get many lucky breaks. On this early spring night, that opened under clear skies and with much optimism, that aphorism remained true.

Now, let’s step back from the emotional outrage and watch those highlights one more time. They include two of the most brilliant MLS goals ever scored in Buck Shaw Stadium, both by Javier Morales.

One of them on a 30-yard blast on the short hop in the first half: A shot that sliced into the upper right hand corner of the net. Joe Cannon didn’t have a chance. The other: A 19-yard free kick in the second half that curled into the upper right hand corner. Joe Cannon didn’t have a chance.

Chalk it up to one night at the park, or better yet, look at the historical relevance of the game, not the final score. When Morales wins ‘Goal of the Year’ you can say ‘I was there’.

Here is some good news:
……10.589 at Buck Shaw, and they wanted to have fun. They were into the game……
……Rookie defender Ike Opara seemed to get more comfortable as the game wore on, after what he admitted was a shaky start……
…..Beer in the stands….. it helped the patrons leave with a better taste in their mouths……
……A week off before a trip to Chicago, and then back to take on New England. This leaves plenty of time for the coach Frank Yallop and the general manager John Doyle to get the attention of every member of the team……    
…….29 games to go in the regular season……..
……and a fine debut on the radio Saturday night for former Quake Kelly Gray….