Back in the 1990's, I first started playing soccer in the East Bay Area, and becoming more interested in the sport... At that time, I didn't have cable at home or anything, but one thing that somehow came through on a few stations were San Jose Clash games. My father, who went to many Quakes games - some that included George Best years back, started watching them with me, and taking me to matches... I loved those early Clash/Quakes games at Spartan Stadium, and it was so fun to go see Ronnie Ecklund, Rich Mulrooney, and some kid named Landon Donovan play. It got me really interested in the sport, and I loved my Quakes. I bought FIFA video games every single year on my Sega and played them till the wee hours of the morning. I loved soccer. It was my favourite thing along with Sharks Hockey.
Then came 2005 and I just completely dropped out of giving a care about MLS. They moved my club. TO FRIGGIN HOUSTAN TEXAS!!? I was heartbroken as a Wimbledon supporter... Here I had a club that had been so successful and gained such a following, taken out of town because Spartan Stadium was "too small." I was livid. Livid that they would do this to me.
So I ditched the MLS completely and I turned to Europe. I became a massive Celtic supporter (Yeah, I'm Catholic haha), as well as a pretty close follower of Newcastle United (which is now my main focus, really). I couldn't attend matches or anything, but I'd still wake up at 4am to watch matches on the internet - completely screwing up my sleep schedule during my first few years of college and probably messing up my GPA terribly so. My walls were no more adorned with Earthquakes garb, but instead with that of the Irish Tricolour and the black and white of the Toon Army.
When the MLS brought back a team to San Jose, I was no longer based in the Bay Area - but instead, Was living in Oregon going to school - Where I still am. I still couldn't get into MLS, as there was no way to see matches - either by attending or watching on TV. There just weren't any opportunities, and the Timbers weren't even around yet... I knew that San Jose had a stint with an aged Darren Huckerby, and I followed as best as I could, but it just wasn't the same now that I wasn't in California.
Then came the Timbers in 2009... and Oregon started going soccer psychotic. I watched wary-eyed knowing the quality of play wasn't quite what I was used to while following EPL and Champions League matches, but Newcastle had just been relegated, Celtic was a dud in the CL, and I had all summer to rekindle my relationship with MLS... Besides, the USA were in the Confederations cup. It was time to get excited about american "soccer" again.
The Timbers weren't even an MLS side yet, but they were getting 10 thousand at their games... sometimes more. I attended a few matches and realized that this USL division wasn't all that different than the early games I attended at Spartan Stadium. My love for american soccer was back. (plus they had some dude with a chansaw - what can I say, that's pretty attractive to a fan) There was a heavy push by many of the Timbers Rangers (as they used to be called when i started following the club) to get them updated to an MLS side - especially once Seattle was given a club. in 2011, this finally happened, and the rest is history - we all know what happens when Soccer's going down in Portland now - regardless of how crap the team sorta is. The support is unbelievable.
In 2010, the Quakes did well enough to make the semi finals of the playoffs. I watched from afar, but still couldn't really adhere to the club. Even as I still watched every Sharks game like a maniac. (some may recognize me from ftf or boc. perhaps CGB if they follow cal sports)
This year, however.. things have started to change. Yes, I still really am close to the timbers, but I've been following the Quakes like crazy! every match... it's fantastic to watch. They play well as a team without any large name player being brought over from Europe, or out of what would otherwise be basically a form of retirement (JP Angel, T Henry, BLECKham... i'm looking at you). No, instead they have this Wondo dude... who went to high school down the road from me... showing those guys UP. It's fucking FANTASTIC! And it's bringing me back to the quakes.
SO... Let me offer my sincere apologies for not following the quakes closer all along... and for now being somewhat torn between two clubs with the Timbers, and Quakes both garnering my equal attention... as I live between both... 10 miles from the California/Oregon border. 5+ hours from both Portland and SJ.
I know it's sacrilege to have bond with two sides... especially in the same division... In Europe it would be unheard of... It's like being a fan of the A's AND the Giants (which in my opinion is fucking disgusting in today's climate) but I can't help it. It's my first love + the team that made me re-realize love. It's hard to pick a side now when the two match up... I own jerseys from both sides...
But yeah, really I'm just coming along to share my story, and let you guys know I'm going to be hanging around here this summer, following the Quakes from now on. Maybe you guys can help me reluctantly pick a side once and for all? Probably not... but regardless. Here's to a great season for San Jose.
Go Quakes! (and Timbers!)