In a surprising announcement, the San Jose Earthquakes announced today that their match-up with the Portland Timbers FC in the second round of MLS qualifying for the 2011 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will be played at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Oregon on May 3rd at 7:30 p.m. When the coin-flip determinations were made for the hosting rights of this year's MLS qualifiers into the tournament proper, the Earthquakes were awarded staging rights to both their second round match, and their third round match if they were to advance in round two. Earthquakes President David Kaval talked to Center Line Soccer, and explained the process that led to the decision to move the match to Portland.
“The key thing was when we sat down with Frank (Yallop) and John (Doyle), and we really agreed that the first week of May was by far the best week to play for our team,” replied Kaval when asked what went into determining the schedule for the game. “We don’t have a game scheduled that following weekend, so to try to squeeze it earlier would have taken away competitively from our MLS games, which is something we did not want to do. Also we didn’t want to play the Open Cup game at sub-par strength.”
The next task was to secure a venue for hosting the game, and when their regular home Buck Shaw Stadium was booked for the entire week with University events, team officials checked into other venues throughout the Bay Area.
“Once we decided on the week, we tried to figure out the best location and we could not find a suitable venue that week,” said Kaval. “Buck Shaw Stadium just wasn’t available, neither was Kezar Stadium. All the other venues we looked at as well. We eventually decided that the best option for the team to play on that date was to go to Portland.”
The San Jose Earthquakes may call Buck Shaw Stadium their home, but the team still must schedule events there through Santa Clara University. Once the Quakes proposed new stadium is up and running, these types of scheduling determinations will be in the hands of the club and not their SCU landlords. One piece of property the team does have control over is the practice field at the Nutrilite Training Facility. When asked about hosting the game there, as the first two Earthquakes MLS Reserve League matches have, Kaval explained that the requirements set forth by the U.S. Open Cup organizers would not allow it.
“We couldn’t play the game at the training grounds, because the facility is not up to par for that,” said Kaval, “and we certainly couldn’t want to play the game behind closed doors because the rules of the tournament do not allow that.”
If the Earthquakes go on to victory at Jeld-Wen Field against the Portland Timbers on May 3rd, the team is prepared to accept their hosting rights to the third round qualifier against the Chicago Fire. The winner of that game would then gain entry into the round of 16 in the U.S. Open Cup proper.
“At the end of the day the decisions we make here are that we want to have a winning team,” said Kaval, “so this was a decision that dovetailed with that priority. We do have a couple dates that would work if we were to advance (to face the Fire) and we have the capability to host that game.”