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….