San Jose Earthquakes 2009
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San Jose Earthquakes
The 2009 campaign was one filled with injury and frustration for the Earthquakes. They finished 7-14-9 with 30 points under head coach Frank Yallop.The season began with new hope, coming off of a strong finish to the 2008 season that included a nine game unbeaten streak. Unfortunately, Yallop and the team had to deal with key injuries to Jason Hernandez and Darren Huckerby. This, along with other injuries spread throughout the starting eleven and led to a lot of shuffling and player movement. All in all, eight players from the roster on opening day were gone by the middle of the season. Players like Andre Luiz, Ramon Sanchez, Cornell Glen, Chris Wondolowski, Bobby Burling, Aaron Pitchkolan and Antonio Ribeiro were brought in mid-season to help bolster the team and set them up for a good run in the future. Once all of these components were together, along with mainstays like Ryan Johnson, Arturo Alvarez and Joe Cannon, the team began to play better and finished the year on a nice run.
Ryan Johnson led the team with a breakout season in 2009, scoring a career-high 11 goals. Defender Chris Leitch, who was acquired early in the year from New York Red Bulls, led the team in assists with a career-high seven. Brandon McDonald broke through into a starting central back role during the middle of the season and solidified himself as a key part of the Quakes defense. He scored his first goal for San Jose, and just the second of his career, in a thrilling 2-2 draw in Los Angeles against Chivas USA late in the year. McDonald was rewarded with a call-up into US national team camp in January.
Another mid-season addition, forward Chris Wondolowski, provided some highlights in the Quakes good form at the conclusion of the season. He scored a stoppage-time winner at home against Kansas City on Aug. 22 and added the final goal in a 4-0 thrashing of Seattle Sounders FC on Aug. 8. Arturo Alvarez added flair to the Quakes attack, scoring five goals in the 2009 season. His goal against Real Salt Lake on May 30 was nominated and finished in the top 10 for MLS Goal of the Year. 2009 also marked a significant point in Alvarez’s career, as he was selected for the El Salvador national team for the first time. He appeared in five World Cup Qualifiers for his country, along with teammate and Salvadoran captain Ramon Sanchez, who appeared in all of the qualifiers.
Two Earthquakes hit big milestones during the season, as goalkeeper Joe Cannon became the franchise leader in starts (159) and minutes played (14,481) and captain Ramiro Corrales became the franchise leader in appearances with 167, while also appearing in his 200th MLS game. Midfielder Darren Huckerby, who provided such a lift to the Earthquakes after his arrival in 2008, called an end to his career towards the end of the season after undergoing season-ending surgery. Huckerby was honored before the game on Oct. 3 in a 1-0 win over New York Red Bulls.
San Jose had quite a few memorable wins in 2009: knocking off Houston 3-2 at home for their first win of the year on March 28, a big 2-1 win over eventual MLS Cup Champion Real Salt Lake on May 30, a 2-1 win over eventual Western Conference Champion LA Galaxy in which Ryan Johnson scored the game-winner, a 4-0 domination of Seattle Sounders FC on Aug. 2, the 1-0 stoppage-time win over Kansas City on Aug. 22 and a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over D.C. United on the road on Sept. 27, which marked the first road win of the year and the first-come-from behind win since the team came back in 2008.