SAN FRANCISCO -- The new San Jose Earthquakes are now no longer a team without a home. According to a source close to Major League Soccer’s 14th franchise, the Quakes will announce on Friday that they’ll play the bulk of their home games during the 2008 and '09 seasons at Buck Shaw Stadium on the campus of the Santa Clara University.
Buck Shaw houses as many as 6,800 fans for Santa Clara men’s and women’s soccer games which, since the school's baseball team moved to its own stadium in 1995, are the only major events held there. It can be expanded to as many as 8,800 seats for larger events, but the source indicated that upgrades may have to be done for MLS games.
(The team confirmed this on Friday, saying it will add 5,000 temporary seats and renovate much of the facility starting next month.)
What’s significant about this choice of venue is that is lies adjacent to both the Earthquakes’ new offices in Santa Clara and the site upon which they hope to build their permanent home. The team is in negotiations with the city of San Jose to build an 18,000- to 20,000-seat soccer-specific stadium on a 75-acre parcel of land next to San Jose International Airport.
In the meantime, Buck Shaw will serve as the Quakes’ base for most of their games during their first year back in the league (the previous Quakes moved to Houston in 2005, where they’re now known as the Dynamo). As previously reported on SI.com, the expansion Quakes are planning on holding games against larger opponents -- such as David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy or four-time champion D.C. United -- at a bigger stadium.
The most obvious choice would be McAfee Coliseum, home of the Oakland A’s, whose owner, Lew Wolff, is also co-owner of the Earthquakes. McAfee drew nearly 50,000 fans to the Mexico-Ecuador friendly in March. But 50,000-seat Stanford Stadium, which is closer to San Jose and was renovated last year, remains another possibility.
But 45-year-old Buck Shaw Stadium is no stranger to soccer. In addition to being the home of both the Santa Clara men’s and women’s teams -- consistently ranked in the NCAA’s top 25 -- it also served as the training site for the Brazilian and Romanian national teams during the ’94 World Cup.
Next up for the Quakes is finding a head coach. The team named former standout defender John Doyle its general manager and appears to be keen on keeping names from the old Earthquakes in the fold. Former Quakes head coaches Frank Yallop (now with the Galaxy) and Dom Kinnear (with Houston) are possibilities.
Should both coaches remain with their current teams, an intriguing alternative could be Paul Bravo, a former Quake with roots in the Silicon Valley area. He’s currently an assistant coach with the Galaxy and has coaching experience with the Colorado Rapids and at UCLA. Troy Dayak, another former standout defender who still has close ties to the region and the organization, could be another possibility. Until he was fired last January, Dayak coached the indoor-league California Cougars, who play in Stockton.