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San Jose Clash 1999
1999 Club by Club
For the first three seasons of the League's history, the San Jose club had operated as a league-owned team. That arrangement changed November 18, 1998 when the Kraft Group Sports, the investor-operator of the New England Revolution and owner of the NFL's New England Patriots, took over operations of the team. The change in ownership brought immediate change throughout the organization.
Kraft Group Sports assumed operation of the team January 4 and named Lynne Meterparel the general manager and Renato Capobianco as director of soccer. The 1999 season also marked the final year that the club would be known as the Clash, and the team retired the nickname by setting a club record for wins in a season with 19. Unfortunately, the team's 37 points saw them come up just short of a playoff spot for the third straight season.
However, the team did place three players in the All-Star game, as Ronald Cerritos, Eddie Lewis and defender Mauricio Wright were selected. Wright knocked in the game-winning goal in the mid-season classic off a Cerritos assist in the 84th minute. The 1999 season also saw Cerritos break his own goal-scoring record with 15 and Lewis establish a new high mark for assists, registering 14.
Lothar Osiander became the third head coach of the team when he took over for Quinn on September 16 with five games remaining in the season. Assistant coach Jorge Espinoza guided the team to two wins before Osiander, the former U.S. National Team coach, was able to join the team from coaching the MLS Project-40 team for the final three matches of the year.
Despite missing the post-season, San Jose continued building for the future. The 1999 season was the first season for four key members of the 2001 MLS Cup Championship squad. Midfielder Richard Mulrooney, defender Jimmy Conrad, goalkeeper Joe Cannon and midfielder Scott Bower all debuted over the course of the year, establishing the solid foundation of the club. Mulrooney was a finalist for the MLS Rookie of the Year award.
With precocious rookies arriving, San Jose parted ways with a piece of its past, loaning striker Eric Wynalda to Leon of the Mexican First Division for the early stages of the season and then sending him to the Miami Fusion via the MetroStars June 1 as part of the "future considerations" from an early season deal.
Ronald Cerritos again led the team in scoring and finished as the third leading scorer in MLS with 15 goals and 39 points. His bicycle kick assist to Alejandro Sequeira Sept. 4 also earned him the Nickelodeon Play of the Year. He was also named the MLS Player of the Month for September when he scored four goals and notched four assists as the team battled for a playoff spot. Solid midfielder Eddie Lewis was named to the MLS Best XI, becoming the third San Jose player ever to be so honored.