10 03 2012

2012 will mark my third season covering San Jose Earthquakes soccer (which I will refer to now on as football out of respect for the game). And so, to commemorate this fine occasion, and because I love the sport so damn much, I decided to put something together as a preview for the 2012 season. I got the inspiration while driving to San Jose for the CCS championship last weekend and, once inspired, it’s becomes a mission of mine to make something that I like. Here is the graphic (click for a larger view):

You may have seen the Chris Wondolowski billboard on your drive down the 101. It looks a little something like this:

These are the kind of images that make an info graphic really POP … super big time … when I saw it, I knew I just HAD to have the image. Luckily for us at the DJ, we work with some great people at the Quakes — mainly Frank Stranzl and in this occasion, Niki Shinn. Both totally got me what I needed. The billboard image was sent to me and I knew I could go in and erase the TYPE, but it would save a ton of time if I just had the image, which Niki so graciously sent over to me. Once I had that, it just a matter of getting in the elements that I wanted. I had a lot of stuff.




Initially, the graphic was built to go horizontal along an entire page of our newspaper. But space is always an issue, and I had to settle for half. I was quite pleased that upon printing it out, the copy was still legible. With the work that went into it, I would have loved to have seen it laid out across a page, but it’s all good in the hood. Here’s what it looked like on the front page of SPORTS.

Yes, of course I wrote the preview that corresponds with the ‘artwork’ … you can find it at http://www.smdailyjournal.com and by clicking on SPORTS. Or, I’ll post it when the link goes live. Whichever comes first.


5:55 with Chris Wondolowski — 

21 10 2011

I had a chance to talk to San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski following his appearance on Chronicle Live on Thursday. For those that don’t know, Wondo is in the middle of another great year and was recently awarded the MVP and Humanitarian of the Year awards by the Quakes.
I have to say, Wondo is super cool with his time and very accommodating toward us media folk. Here’s a transcript of my chat with the reigning MLS Golden Boot winner. (Picture below is courtesy of Frank Stazl, uber-PR dude for the Quakes. You can follow them on Twitter @sjearthquakes. You probably should).

Q: Tell me what it how much it meant to win the awards.
CW: It means a lot. I think this team is a good team so to get the MVP, it means a lot. It really means a lot to win the Humanitarian Award because I feel that we have such a great community throughout the Bay Area, and I love to give back as much as I can, wherever I can. It’s good to be involved in the community because there are some sincere and great people as well

Q: Does the Humanitarian Award hold more weight for you considering that this is your hometown, and not just the town of the team you play for?
CW: Oh yeah, absolutely. That’s why it means so much more. Because, like you said, I grew up in this community. I was one of them and I still feel like I am a part of this community. And I know I’ll be here even after my career is over so it’s just nice to be involved with them and to be honest, I really do believe that it is a great community and there are a lot of good people there.

Q: Wondo, the year didn’t pan out the way the team wanted. With one game left on the schedule, tell me how you feel about the season that is winding down.
CW: Yeah, you look back and it’s a bit frustrating throughout this year because we really did believe we had a very good team and we thought we should have done better. At times, we didn’t hold down leads as well as we should have and we got punished for it. And we were unlucky with some injuries that continued to pop up on us. But something that I am proud of is that it is a great group of guys and individuals, and it’s fun to be a part of this team. I commend all of them for not giving up. We fought on every game and to be honest, the last two, three months, we’ve played some of the best soccer at the end. It just happens to be too little, too late.

Q: How did you stay focused on your task as a goal-scorer with the team struggling the way that is did?
CW: It just comes down to, I’m a very competitive person; I think our whole team is. So, every game we knew it was a battle. And we challenged each other to work as hard as we can and be ready to play our next game. Even when things aren’t going as well as you’d like, we still have to go out there and work hard and get back to the basics.

Q: Last season came out of nowhere, Chris. How much does it mean to you that you could back up a season like 2010 with a 2011 that was just as good?
CW: It means a lot. It just helped reassure that I’m the player that I believe I am. It’s a good feeling. A lot of credit goes to my teammates, I think they had a lot to do with it. A lot of the goals were one-touch or two-touch goals where they gave great passes and could find me in the box.

Q: Talk a little about your goalkeeper, Jon Busch, the team’s defensive MVP.
CW: He’s meant a whole lot to the team. He’s kind of the heart of the team. He comes every game, and every day at practice and works his tail off. He’s kept us in so many games, I just feel bad that we couldn’t help him out even more because he’s done very well and sometimes the stats don’t show how well he’s played; he’s probably been one of the best goalkeepers day-in and day-out for the saves that he’s made.

Q: With the season winding down, and looking forward to 2012, does this team have the personnel in place to make a serious run at another MLS Cup?
CW: Oh absolutely. I really feel there is a great core group of guys that are going to be with this team for a while and help us go in the right direction. I do think there will be a couple of personnel changes, and I think they’ll be some good things for the team. And I think we’ll going to get some good players that will also help. So, with all that in place, I really think 2012 is going to be a great year for us.

SJ Earthquakes draw with Sounders FC —

4 04 2011

It’s good to be back at Buck Shaw stadium covering the San Jose Earthquakes in 2011. The Quakes entered this week’s game against Seattle at 1-1 after dropping the opener to Real Salt Lake and riding two scores by Wondo to beat Dallas. Anyways, below you find some post-game comments by Khari Stephenson, who had a wonderstrike of a goal to equalize the game in the 52nd minute.

One other note before you take off — I do most of my tweeting from the Santa Clara press box and if you’re not following me yet … what the hell! I come up with some mighty interesting tweets. The Twitter feed is @julitolara. Check out some of these delicious morsels.

Here’s the excerpt:

Don’t adjust your newspapers. It is true. Someone other than Chris Wondolowski has finally scored in a regular season match for the San Jose Earthquakes.

It’s a good thing too, considering that if San Jose’s trend had held true against the Seattle Sounders Saturday night, the Earthquakes would have lost.

But San Jose showed good resiliency, twice erasing one-goal deficits to earn a 2-2 draw against their division rivals.

“Someone other than Wondo scored, thank God for that,” said San Jose head coach Frank Yallop.  “That’s a big thing for us. I think Chris feels relieved now.”

“It was an exciting game, I thought we felt a little unlucky we didn’t get the win tonight but to come back into the game, after being a goal down twice, which is good in any game so I’m very happy with the outcome and the performance,” he said.

The biggest goal of the game was also the most thrilling. It came in the 52nd minute with San Jose down 2-1 following a goal by O’Brian White in the 42nd minute. It was seven minutes into the second half that Khari Stephenson cocked back and let a 35-yard cracker fly to Kasey Keller’s far post. Keller got a fingertip on the shot, but it was too strong, and the goal equalized the game.

And you can read the rest of the story here.

We’ll see ya next weekend.

Earthquakes beat the Wizards

15 08 2010

For those wondering, Jason Hernandez received a red card in the 88th minute for “violent conduct.” He called it a spur of the moment thing — he said the guy he clocked with an elbow was asking it for it  — it wouldn’t surprise me honestly, Kansas City was diving the entire night.


Busy weekend continues with a nice 1-0 win for the Earthquakes Saturday night against Kansas City. Goal by Chris Wondolowski in the 35th minute for the difference. I’m posting the story I filed today and a link to it online tomorrow when it’s officially out. Also, there’s video of Frank Yallop below and Chris talking briefly about his goal at the bottom of this post. Peace out.

Quakes back on the winning track

By Julio Lara, Daily Journal Staff

Nothing like a win to makes things all better.

Coming into Saturday’s game against the Kansas City Wizards, the San Jose Earthquakes were reeling — winners of only one of their past seven games, the Quakes were bruised mentally, battered physically and seemingly put together by duct tape due to injury.

Injuries to the likes of Ramiro Corrales, Chris Leitch, Steven Beltashour and Ike Oparra forced head coach Frank Yallop to put together a starting-11 that featured newcomers Tim Ward and Khari Stephenson and move players like Bobby Convey from their conventional positions to spots were the team was in need.

But if there’s one thing San Jose has shown this season is that Yallop can prepare his team to play defense, especially at home. And that’s what it took Saturday night — an exceptional defensive performance, highlighted by the play of goalkeeper Joe Cannon, and a timely goal by Chris Wondolowski propelled San Jose to a huge 1-0 win over the visiting Wiz.

“I’m very happy for our guys,” Yallop said. “I’m very pleased with the three points. And it puts us right back in the (playoff) picture and that’s all we needed to see.”

It was a game the Quakes needed to win, coming off a heart-breaking loss to the Colorado Rapids the week before in which an own-goal did them in.

San Jose came out like they knew that. Offensively in the first half, the Earthquakes created a handful of chances throughout — by the 30th minute, Cornell Glen alone had three clear goal-scoring opportunities but failed on all of them.

But Wondolowski came to the rescue in the 35th minute, one-timing a pretty lob from the newly-acquired Stephenson inside the Kansas City box for the 1-0 lead. It was Wondolowski’s team-leading 7th goal.

“He put right on a platter,” Wondolowski said of Stephenson’s pass. “Goal scoring is contagious. Hopefully I can get back on a steak and get it going again. It’s great to get that feeling back.”

The second half belonged to Cannon and the line judge.

For his part, Cannon came up with some significant saves to preserve the team’s fifth home shutout — none bigger than his save of Teal Bunbury in the 59th minute.

Three times in the second half the Wiz had goals disallowed by the line judge’s flag on an offside call, much to the chagrin of the Kansa City bench. But despite a red card to Jason Hernandez in the 88th minute and four minutes of stoppage time, the Quakes had just enough to hold on for the victory and the much-needed three points.

Cannon and Wondolowski will get the headlines with their clutch play, but several Quakes performed very well Saturday night. Convey was terrific playing left back, despite a mistake early in the game that almost cost his team a goal. Brandon McDonald was moved to a central defender position for the game and performed very much to Yallop’s liking. Hernandez was also solid defensively and Arturo Alvarez created chances from his midfield position the entire evening.

Huge doesn’t begin to describe the win — not only were they reeling, but a loss or draw with the league’s best team, the L.A Galaxy, coming in next week, would have surely shut the door on San Jose’s playoff aspirations in 2010.

But now, playing with the confidence that comes after a win, the showdown the Galaxy (a team they tied 2-2 in Los Angeles) appears to be a winnable game for San Jose.

And that would be even bigger than huge.