San Jose Clash 1996
1996 Club by Club
Throughout the early stages of 1996, San Jose remained busy attempting to field their first squad in the organization's history. The club received a huge boost when it was allocated U.S. National Team leading scorer Eric Wynalda on January 23, just one day after he became the all-time leading goal scorer in U.S. National Team history.
The team continued to take shape, as Paul Bravo was the club's first ever draft pick February 6 in the inaugural MLS Draft. Eleven days later, San Jose was involved in the first trade in league history, sending Rhett Harty and a first-round draft choice to the MetroStars for defender Troy Dayak.
Soon after the first draft, Calloway convened the team on the south campus of San Jose State University on March 1 for the club's first-ever training camp. San Jose was once again an integral part of the launching of MLS, hosting the MLS' Inaugural Game at Spartan Stadium before a crowd of 31,683 on April 6. The then-record crowd did not go away disappointed as San Jose won its first game on the first goal in MLS history courtesy of Wynalda, defeating D.C. United 1-0. One month later, the club made history again, as they hosted the Los Angeles Galaxy in a match that drew 31,728 fans to Spartan Stadium, setting the record for attendance at a sporting event in the city of San Jose.
San Jose went on to finish their first season with a 15-17 record and a tough three-game exit from the playoffs by the eventual MLS runners-up Los Angeles Galaxy. It was a season that saw the club host the one millionth fan to attend an MLS game and record the first victory for an MLS team against an international opponent. The Clash defeated UNAM Pumas of the Mexican First Division 2-1 at Spartan Stadium June 12 to earn that distinction. John Doyle went on to be recognized as the first MLS Defender of the Year after a stellar season, while also earning a spot on the MLS Best XI team. Missael Espinoza, a Mexican National Team standout, earned the Clash Budweiser MVP Award in that first season.
San Jose would continue with its international success, becoming the first MLS team to make a post-season international tour. The club split two games during a 13-day trip through China in late October and early November.