San Jose Earthquakes 2008
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San Jose Earthquakes
The San Jose Earthquakes started 2008 with a flurry of activity. On Jan. 10, they acquired goalkeeper Joe Cannon from the LA Galaxy. Soon after the team acquired defender Nick Garcia from the Kansas City Wizards in exchange for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft and then selected Shea Salinas with the 15th overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft.
The Quakes reported for preseason at the beginning of February and officially made their on-field return to the Bay Area on February 13, in a 1-0 preseason loss to the old version of themselves, the Houston Dynamo, at PAL Stadium in San Jose. Another familiar face returned to San Jose soon after, as the Earthquakes acquired midfielder Ramiro Corrales from the Houston Dynamo in exchange for allocation money.
On Feb. 26, the Earthquakes named former Quakes midfielder Ronnie Ekelund the technical advisor. A day later, the team acquired midfielder Ronnie O'Brien from Toronto FC in exchange for a first round draft pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft and allocation money.
The Quakes kept on building the team and on March 13, Jason Batty was named the goalkeeper coach. At the end of the month, the team signed Shea Salinas and acquired forward John Cunliffe. Prior to the opener against the Galaxy on April 3, the Earthquakes signed Eric Denton, Jay Ayres, Matt Hatzke, Adam Smarte, Jamil Roberts and Ryan Johnson.
The team opened their home schedule in front of over 20,000 fans at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum against the Chicago Fire on April 12. The Quakes won their first match on April 19 with a 2-0 road victory over the Colorado Rapids. Another milestone came on May 3 when the team opened its new home on the campus of Santa Clara University, Buck Shaw Stadium. The Quakes played to a 0-0 draw in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,515.
While the Quakes were back on the field, the team was not able to find its rhythm until midseason. To bolster the attack, John Doyle and Frank Yallop signed English forward Darren Huckerby, MLS veteran forward Scott Sealy, former AS Roma midfielder Francisco Lima and former Earthquakes player midfielder/forward Arturo Alvarez. The new signings paid off and the team posted a nine-game unbeaten streak from July 12-Sept. 27, the longest unbeaten streak in the league in 2008 and the second longest ever by an expansion team. That run got the Quakes back into the thick of the playoff race, but they were not able to get climb all the way back up the standings and were eliminated from the playoff chase on the penultimate weekend of the season.
During the 2008 season, the team earned a number of memorable victories, including a 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo on May 22 at Buck Shaw Stadium, a last-minute 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy at Oakland Alameda County Coliseum, a 4-0 win over the New England Revolution and a 2-0 road win over the eventual MLS Cup Champion Columbus Crew. The Quakes capped the season with a 2-0 win over Toronto FC on Oct. 25. The team also set a single-game attendance record on June 14 against the Los Angeles Galaxy, as 39,728 fans packed into Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
The Quakes saw standout performances from a number of players, including goalkeeper Joe Cannon and midfielder Darren Huckerby. Cannon led the league in saves and posted nine shutouts on the year and was also named the team's U.S. Soccer Foundation Humanitarian of the Year. Huckerby scored six goals and notched four assists in just 14 games to be named the MLS player of the month for September, MLS Newcomer of they Year and the Earthquakes Most Valuable Player. Jason Hernandez earned the team's Defensive Player of the Year award for his excellent play on the backline.
The Earthquakes made a very successful return to MLS as the top expansion team of the last decade. Under the guidance of head coach Frank Yallop, the Quakes had more wins (8), points (33) and goals (32) and allowed fewer goals (38) than any expansion team since 1998.