2004 Club by Club
Despite coming off their second championship in three seasons, changes at the top were the big story heading into the 2004 season. In December 2003, head coach Frank Yallop stepped down from the Quakes to take over the Canadian National Team. In his place, the Quakes elevated assistant coach Dominic Kinnear to the top job and he brought in long-time San Jose player John Doyle to serve as his assistant coach. In late January 2004, changes continued as general manager Johnny Moore stepped down and was replaced by former U.S. World Cup star Alexi Lalas, who was named President and General Manager on January 27, 2004.
A successful draft by Kinnear and Doyle saw the team acquire local Santa Clara products defender Ryan Cochrane and goalkeeper Steve Cronin in the first round. The team also picked up midfielder Tighe Dombrowski from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the fifth round. Those draft picks served to bolster a team that brought back over 90 percent of the 2003 team. Manny Lagos, who was traded to the Columbus Crew for a third round pick, was the only starter not retained.
The 2004 season again saw the Quakes lose over 100 man games to injury and national team call-ups, and coupled with nine one-goal losses, San Jose finished 9-10-11 and fourth in the Western Conference. San Jose then faced the Kansas City Wizards in the Western Conference Semifinals in a two-game series. After winning the first game 2-0 at home on goals by Dwayne De Rosario and Craig Waibel, Kansas City turned the tables in game two to beat the Quakes 3-0 and end their season.
While San Jose did not make it back to MLS Cup, the team accomplished a number of notable feats. It set club records by recording four straight shutouts from Aug. 14-Sept. 4, while also recording a club record 459-minute shutout streak. Kinnear's squad also broke the MLS record by going extending their unbeaten streak when scoring first at home to 46 games.
Individually, the Quakes had a number of outstanding performances and milestones. For the first time in club history, the Earthquakes had five players voted in as starters for the Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game as Jeff Agoos, Brian Ching, Landon Donovan, Richard Mulrooney and Pat Onstad all earned spots on the West squad. Ching scored in the game on assists from Mulrooney and Donovan, but the West fell 3-2.
Ching had a breakout year after recovering from a torn Achilles in 2003, as he scored a league-leading 12 goals and notched four assists to earn MLS Comeback Player of the Year honors and a spot on the RadioShack Best XI team. In another historic moment, Mulrooney set the club record for assists against the Los Angeles Galaxy on May 22 and finished the year with 44 assists. Mulrooney finished 2004 as the all-time leader in six categories, including games played (163), minutes played (14,204) and fouls suffered (354), among others.
The off-season saw more change as the Quakes lost star forward Landon Donovan, who decided to return to Germany to play for Bayer Leverkusen, which had exercised the option to retain Donovan after his four years in MLS.