When you have been waiting for your team to come back like San Jose Earthquake fans, you aren’t likely to get too frazzled by a season-opening loss, even if it is to the hated Los Angeles Galaxy. The fact remains that the team some thought might never come back is back.
Admit it, you thought San Jose would be ahead of the expansion team curve, especially after the Carolina Challenge Cup win in pre-season. The defense was looking good and the attack, well, the attack didn’t look great in pre-season either.
As we were reminded last Thursday night, growing pains are unavoidable. Even the 1998 Chicago Fire, the only expansion team to ever win an MLS Cup in year one, struggled early in the year. No, nobody is comparing the current Earthquakes to the ’98 Fire, it isn’t even close, but we should remember that the MLS season is long and there is still time for Frank Yallop to mold the squad.
SBI Correspondent Kevin Matthiessen watched his team make its return to MLS and while there was little about the results that was worth cheering for, Matthiessen joined other San Jose fans in simply being thankful to have a team to root for. Here is his take on the club’s first match of the season (Feel free to provide your reaction to Stephen’s piece in the comments section below):
Loss aside, it’s good to have the Earthquakes back
By Kevin Matthiessen
Yes the Earthquakes are back. They may be a new expansion team but the fan base remains the same. Established in 2008? Nah, just ask an old timer Quakes fan and he will tell you this team was indeed established in 1974. So what if there were different owners, management, players, stadiums, etc.
Heck, scientists tell me every single cell in my body is regenerated every seven years. So in essence I’m a completely different person than I was seven years ago but I’m not saying I was established in 2001.
Along with our well established team, we also have our well established rivalry. So, not only were the Earthquakes taking the field for the first time in years, they also happened to be playing against our most hated rivals, the Los Angeles Galaxy*, the same team that knocked the Quakes out of the playoffs, and out of the league. Yes, this same team, whose owners took our team away from us and sent them to Houston, were the first foes for 2008. It was almost too much to bear. And surely it was. A disappointing 2-0 loss was the result, giving us Earthquake faithful the most bittersweet of entertainment on the night.
Surely there are many built-in excuses for the loss. The Quakes are an expansion team. No away team has won yet this season. The Supporter’s Shield winners, MLS Cup champions, MLS Cup runners up, and the Galaxy have all lost as much or more than the Earthquakes did on their first night. Since their opponents came off a terrible 4-0 defeat, surely they would come out on fire and be tough. The biggest reason for the loss however I would attribute to is nervousness.
If our boys Ryan Cochrane and Joe Cannon felt any of the pain that we did when the Earthquakes were moved, and I’m sure they did, it’s understandable that nerves were running high. And certainly it must have carried over to the other players. In fact, none of the players looked terribly relaxed on the night.
They wanted to win so badly.
It’s hard to blame anyone for wanting something too much or for trying too hard. These two players are by far the most popular Earthquakes players. If anyone’s going to make some mistakes it may as well have been them. They won’t get fried on the soccer boards and fans will give them a second chance.
Being as though the Earthquakes are an expansion team, this season will always be about second chances. And here we are as fans with another chance to fully enjoy MLS. We won’t take it for granted.