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.


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 defeat the Galaxy

25 08 2010

So, it’s super late — but it’s worth posting because it is a monster win for San Jose.

Busch saves the day for Earthquakes
By Julio Lara Daily Journal Staff
It’s been an up-and-down year for the San Jose Earthquakes — but they might just have hit their peak.
In what has to be seen as one of the biggest wins since their return to Major League Soccer, San Jose scored early and held on to beat the L.A. Galaxy, the team with the best record in MLS, 1-0, in front a record crowd at Buck Shaw stadium.

The win, coupled with a Colorado loss, propels the Quakes right back into the playoff picture with 29 points.

“For us to get a clean sheet against a team like that, it shows the character we have in our dressing room right now,” said San Jose head coach Frank Yallop. “We picked up three valuable points today. It’s not about how you do it, it’s about getting it done.”

How they did it shouldn’t come as a surprise anymore to anyone that follows the league — with their 8th home shutout in 2010 the Quakes have demonstrated that there might be a tougher team to score on at home than San Jose.

In their latest win the defensive conversation begins and ends with goalkeeper Jon Busch, who was anointed the starter earlier this week after Joe Cannon went down with an ankle injury.

The nine-year MLS veteran was superb between the posts for the Earthquakes, making several key saves including a pair on Landon Donovan, the U.S team star, who is loved and hated around theses parts.

“We knew we could play with them,” Busch said. “They’re probably the best team in the league right now (but) we knew we could compete with them.”

Call it the rivalry, or maybe it’s that San Jose knew that Saturday marked a big stretch of games that could determine their postseason aspirations, but the Quakes seem to have a little extra in the tank when they’ve played against the Galaxy.

Saturday marked the second time that an early goal has fueled San Jose. In Los Angeles, Bobby Convey put the Earthquakes ahead in the second minute. On Saturday Chris Wondolowski was the benefactor of a defensive miscommunication by the Galaxy in the 4th minute.

After receiving a pass by Arturo Alvarez, Convey crossed the ball into the L.A. 18. Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts started for the ball but then let up and Wondolowski found himself alone on the end line with the ball at his feet — to his credit San Jose’s leading scorer still had to execute a shot on a difficult angle to convert the score.

Down 1-0, the Galaxy, who came back twice against the Earthquakes in late July to steal a draw, went to work. But at the end of their best efforts was Busch.

Due to injuries, San Jose is still trying to patch things up on their backline — and that showed Saturday.

Three times L.A. was gift-wrapped goals on defensive lapses by San Jose but none greater than in the 39th minute when Donovan was 1-on-1 against Busch. The San Jose keeper went low and to his left to make a marvelous save.

“If that isn’t the save of the week, there must be some amazing save,” Wondolowski said.

“I kind of block everything out,” said Busch on his approach to 1-v-1 opportunities. “I drift off into Jon Busch Land and today, it was a good place to be.”

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.

Earthquakes sleepy against Seattle

3 08 2010

It’s been a while … a long while, BUT I’VE BEEN BUSY!

Anyways, posting my story from this weekend’s game against Seattle. Bad loss, ugly loss, for your San Jose Earthquakes.

Sleepy against Seattle
By Julio Lara Daily Journal Staff
Seldom will a team play a “must-win” game in the middle of their season.
But often there are games that a team will look back on at season’s end as a turning point — good or bad. 

The San Jose Earthquakes had such a game Saturday night, and looked flat against the Seattle Sounders, this after playing some inspired soccer against the western conference leading L.A Galaxy a little more than a week before, dropping a 1-0 decision to the visitors.

The loss keeps the Quakes at 23 points with 14 games left to play — Seattle jumps their west rivals in the points standings with 25.

“I thought it was our worst performance this season, definitely,” said Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop. “From the opening whistle we didn’t seem to have a real idea and some scrappiness. And it was, really disappointing.”

The Sounders, who came in having played three more games than the Quakes, looked like the team in need of the three points. From the on-set of play they came out and attacked the Quakes, leaving San Jose to react and counter an aggressive Seattle team — it’s a style that Yallop acknowledged does not suit the Earthquakes well, especially at home.

“We just didn’t move the ball quickly,” Yallop said. “We were reacting to everything rather than anticipating. There’s a big difference there. You got to anticipate and be on the move and read plays rather than wait then react to wherever the ball goes. It’s too late. We were very static and on our heels most of the game.”

Seattle pressured the Quakes from the start of the match but maybe the moment of the game came early for San Jose when Cornell Glen was one-on-one against Seattle keeper Kasey Keller on the left side of the 18 but came up short on a shot hit right at him. San Jose didn’t know it at the time, but it would turn out to be their best chance to score.

The Sounders looked like the superior side throughout and their frequent knocking of the San Jose goal netted them the lead in the 26th minute when Fredy Montero smoothly headed in a Sanna Nyassi cross for the only score of the match. Earthquakes keeper Jon Busch was no match for Montero’s header as the midfielder made a run down the heart of the San Jose defense and struck the ball with no opposition. It was one of those goals that looked too easy.

To Busch’s credit the San Jose keeper was the man of the match for his team. Seattle had seven shots on goal for the game — many of which Busch had to fantastically push to the side to prevent the match from getting out of reach.

Still, it was like Yallop said — San Jose had no answer for the Seattle defense or midfield in the first half.

Substitutions in the second half looked to solidify San Jose a bit. Up top Ryan Johnson replaced an absent Scott Sealy and in the midfield Arturo Alvarez came and netted the Earthquakes with a couple of opportunities. Chris Wondolowski, who came into the match leading San Jose with six goals, was brought on in the 74th minute as well.

But it was to no avail. The Quakes did have some chances late, most noticeably on a right-footed shot by Bobby Convey that sailed a little high.

“Tonight we didn’t do anything well really,” Yallop said. “It’s a massive game for us (and) we just laid down and died to be honest,” he said.

Toronto finds the way to San Jose

31 05 2010

Corny headline? Yeah, I know.

So Toronto came into San Jose and found a way to win. Preki has his team playing well and they took advantage of some breaks to get the W. Some notes on the game that weren’t in the story. 
• Laugher of the day goes to Bobby Convey. Late in the game, with the Quakes in full out offensive mode, the ball went out of play for a throw-in near the Toronto bench. Preki got his hand on the ball and as soon as Convey got the ball from the ball boy, Preki tossed another ball into the field of play. Convey didn’t take too well to that and threw a fastball in the vicinity  of Preki which smashed against the boards. Convey for a yellow for that, Preki was thrown out of the game.
• I’ve included video of Joe Cannon in the locker room after the game. I mention a little about the sun in the story but he goes into it a little more. 

That said, the story can be found here

‘Quakes lose to Toronto
By Julio Lara Daily Journal Staff
The recent resurgence of the San Jose Earthquakes hit what they hope will only be a speed bump Saturday night with a 3-1 loss to Toronto FC.
The Quakes were admittedly flat for the game’s first 60 minutes and were done in by some bad luck and questionable officiating. That said San Jose’s performance to start the game was uncharacteristic of the team fans have seen in 2010 – especially at home.

“I thought we were flat. I can’t put a finger on it really,” said San Jose head coach Frank Yallop. “The energy wasn’t good I thought, for whatever reason. It just wasn’t our night.”

Toronto FC came into the match near the top of the eastern conference standings – marking a two-game stretch where the Quakes will face off against the cream of the eastern crop. And while San Jose didn’t play too poorly and fell behind on two fluke-style goals, they cannot afford to come out like that again against Columbus Wednesday night.

After possessing the ball for the majority of the first half, Mother Nature did the Quakes in the 31st minute. It was a beautiful night in Santa Clara, but the positioning of the sun gave the San Jose defense fits in the first half and led to a miscommunication in the back on a long, high ball to Toronto’s Chad Barrett. Joe Cannon was out of position, charging toward the ball near his 18 and collided with Barrett who somehow managed to tip the ball forward and over the goal line for the 1-0 lead. 

“I just couldn’t see anything,” Cannon said. “I’m trying to assess the situation in a split second moment but it’s kind of like having blinders on. Last year I don’t think I ever had to deal with a full half of that sun in my face and I think everyone struggled with it.”

On the offensive the Quakes could muster very little despite their possession. Down 1-0 at the half, the task of coming back doubled in the 66th minute on goal by Toronto’s Dwayne De Rosario. A long pass from Toronto’s defensive third found De Rosario, who appeared to be offside, but with the flag down, De Rosario was able to tip the ball past Cannon was the 2-0 advantage. 

The goal awakened the Quakes, who were in full offensive mode from that moment on. Wave after wave of San Jose attacks made their way toward the Toronto goal and in the 76th minute the Earthquakes finally broke through. 

Bobby Convey tallied his sixth assist of the season on a corner kick that found the head of Ramiro Corrales for his first goal of 2010.

San Jose kept knocking on the door, applying constant pressure on the Toronto defense to try and get the equalizer but it wasn’t to be. 

De Rosario got his second goal of the night on an empty netter as Cannon had come up on a late indirect kick to give the Quakes an extra player on the offensive. But the gamble backfired and De Rosario was able to track down a clearance by his defense and tap the ball into the San Jose net for Toronto’s third goal of the night.

San Jose will try to rebound Wednesday night when they face the Columbus Crew, the top team in the eastern conference.

Wasn’t Pretty But Earthquakes Win

3 05 2010

Last season the Colorado Rapids were a pain in the Earthquakes’ backside. It wasn’t pretty Saturday night, but San Jose held on. Story follows along with a little video from the post game press conference with head coach Frank Yallop. You can catch it tomorrow at a news rack near you or here.

By Julio Lara

Daily Journal Staff

 After two seasons of hanging out near the bottom of the standings the San Jose Earthquakes will take the W’s any way they can get them — they’re all huge.

Saturday night’s 1-0 win against the Colorado Rapids was a prime example of a game that the Quakes did not play all that well in but somehow found a way to win.

And if you ask anyone in the San Jose locker room, they’ll take winning ugly over losing pretty any day of the week.

“It wasn’t the best game I thought that we played all year but it was a workman’s-like game,” said Chris Wondolowski, the man responsible for giving the Quakes the win.  “And to honest it’s one the proudest wins I’ve had,” he said.

“We didn’t play particularly well, but, fantastic result,” said head coach Frank Yallop. “We had a few days where we’ve played pretty well and loss so to play not-great and get three points is very rewarding for us as a team.”

Colorado has been a head-scratcher as of late for the Quakes. Last season the Rapids stole a pair of points from San Jose in games that the Earthquakes led. So to come away with the victory might be further indication that San Jose is actually turning things around in 2010.

“I think we showed good resilience,” said goalkeeper Joe Cannon, who recorded his second shutout of the season — a feat the Quakes didn’t accomplish until late August of 2009. “(We were) in really good shape all night, really good discipline. We didn’t give them much. I think the maturity of this team is growing.”

The match was a defensively battle. The teams combined for only seven shots on goal, five of which belonged to the Quakes despite Colorado controlling possession for the majority of the game.

With their touches few and far between the Quakes were left to make the most of their opportunities.

They did just that in the 33rd minute on a pair of great passes and an even better finish by Wondolowski.

Ramiro Corrales’ pass from the defensive third was tipped by Ryan Johnson near midfield and found Wondolowski who fired a shot past Colorado keeper Matt Pickens. The missile struck the crossbar and ended up inside the net for the game’s only goal.

The goal was Wondolowski’s third in three games.

“Wondo is a good player, that’s the reason he’s here,” Yallop said. “So I’m very happy for him. He’s an unsung hero, doesn’t get a bunch of press and doesn’t say a word, just works really really hard so it’s a nice for a fellow like him to get the headlines and he deserves it.”

The Earthquakes defense did enough to hold on in the second half taking advantage of the lead to tighten things up even further and Cannon was never really threatened.

“I think we match up pretty well with Colorado,” said defender Jason Hernandez. “We like that match-up (and) for whatever reason we’re able to deal with their pace up top with Omar (Cummings) and Conor (Casey). We were really able to neutralize them,” he said.