MLS Fan Watch: San Jose Earthquakes
November, 6, 2012
By Chris Gigley | ESPN The Magazine
Victor Decolongon/Getty ImagesShirts are clearly optional among Earthquakes fans at the cozy confines of Buck Shaw Stadium.Editor's note: Welcome to MLS Fan Watch, in which ESPN Playbook takes a closer look at the supporting group for each of the eight MLS conference semifinalists. The sixth in the series focuses on fans of the San Jose Earthquakes.
San Jose is the favorite to win it all this year. The team captured the Supporters' Shield for the best MLS regular-season record.
The Quakes also have the league’s top scorer in Chris Wondolowski, who tied Roy Lassiter’s 16-year-old record with 27 goals.
But this first-class team must play in steerage-class Buck Shaw Stadium, which has stood on the campus of the University of Santa Clara since 1962.
It is easily the smallest venue in the league, seating a shade more than 10,000 fans. That’s why the MLS brass want to relocate the final to Stanford Stadium, capacity 50,000, if the Quakes go all the way.
To get there, the Quakes need to finish off the L.A. Galaxy, whom San Jose beat 1-0 in the first leg of their conference semifinal. The second leg is at Buck Shaw on Wednesday night.
• Stadium: Buck Shaw Stadium
• Opened: 1962
• Capacity: 10,525
• Supporter groups and stadium locations:
North End (Sections 108-109)
- 1906 Ultras: A union between the San Jose Ultras and 1906 Supporters, groups that cheered on the original Quakes before they relocated to Houston in 2005.
- Casbah: Dates back to the birth of the franchise in 1996, when the club was known as the San Jose Clash. In fact, the group’s logo uses the same font that graced Clash jerseys.
- Club Quake: An ardent supporter group with a community bent. Club Quake aims to create team awareness via events such as the Light the Night Walk.
• Known for: A blue-collar attitude. The Quakes play a workmanlike style that even their star, Wondolowski, buys into.
The fans, meanwhile, form a tight community that defends its amenity-less little stadium whenever opposing fans make fun of it. Think late-’80s Cleveland fans, but with a winning team.
• Sample chant: “We Are the Faithful” -- 1906 Ultras
"We are the faithful
We are your crew
Wherever you go
We’ll be there too
For San Jose
We will stay true
We bleed black and blue
San Jose, San Jose,
San Jose, San Jose
San Jose, San Jose,
San Jose, San Joseeeeeee"
• Fan favorite: Wondolowski, forward. Fans embrace Wondolowski for his tireless work ethic.
Kelley L Cox/US PresswireWhether fan, teammate or foe -- all eyes are on Wondo.
He also looks like he could be one of us -- he’s not particularly fast, and at 6 feet even, he’s not particularly tall.
But he’s clever enough to find the space around the goal and score. This season’s Golden Boot Award is his second in three seasons.
• Opponent’s perspective: “The problem you have at Buck Shaw Stadium is defending Wondolowski.
"It’s a small field, and I think that plays to their strength. They like to get a lot of bodies in the box and create confusion.
"It’s tough to mark Wondo because he’s always moving -- although if you watch tape of him, he usually winds up on the back post waiting for a cross from [Steven] Beitashour or [Sam] Cronin. All those guys always hit decent balls in the box." -- Nat Borchers, Real Salt Lake defender