In less heralded news this week, the San Jose Earthquakes added two more coaches to their Developmental Academy as they continue to add resources to their youth system. Former Colorado Rapids forward Marquis White and former Houston Dynamo defender Stephen Wondolowski were named head and assistant coach respectively for the club’s U-16 and U-18 teams. Both White and Wondolowski served as members of the technical staff for the Academy’s inaugural season in 2010-11.
The San Jose Developmental Academy had a promising first year, and is slated to grow even more in the next few seasons. As MLS increases the incentives provided to it’s member franchises in the realm of player development, the ability for the Earthquakes to bring players through their system to the senior team will go far in maximizing the salary resources available for signings from other clubs and leagues. Bolstering the coaching ranks at the Academy level and bringing in more youth players are two steps that should help the Quakes stay competitive in the growing MLS Academy system.
General manager John Doyle, who prior to assuming that role with the Earthquakes 2.0 in 2008, was a leading coach and executive at Mustang Soccer in the East Bay, and he was intimately involved with local player development. Since the Quakes started their own youth teams in 2010, Doyle and ex-Earthquakes Troy Dayak have ushered the program forward and have seen the emergence of such Academy stars as Jesus Guzman of the U-17/18’s who was named the US Development Academy Goalkeeper of the Year after recording six shutouts in 24 matches in the club’s inaugural season. Doyle sees the promotions of White and Wondolowski to the coaching ranks as an important step forward for the Academy.
"For the upcoming academy season, our goal was to add a pair of coaches who have experience playing at the professional level," said Earthquakes General Manager John Doyle. "Marquis and Stephen are a great fit for the Earthquakes because of their local ties and their experience playing in Major League Soccer. They are both high character people who will be great role models both on and off the field for our academy players."
Stephen Wondolowski is the younger brother of current San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski and is a alum of the UC Santa Cruz men’s soccer program. Following his MLS playing career in Houston, Wondolowski returned to the Bay Area to pursue a career in coaching. Along with his work on the technical staff for San Jose’s Youth Academy in 2010-11, he coached for Mustang Soccer in Danville for age groups ranging from U-12 to U-18. His older brother expressed his happiness that Stephen was taking a bigger role with the Earthquakes Developmental Academy.
"It means a lot," said Chris following the announcement. "Playing with him in Houston for those two-and-a-half years was a great experience; I loved it and really enjoyed it. I think he can bring a lot to the Academy, a lot of knowledge and I think he is a good coach. I’ve seen him coach at the club level and I think it’s a really good thing. I’m proud of him and really appreciate the club giving him the opportunity, because I think he deserves it."
The San Jose Earthquakes have yet to sign an Academy player to their senior roster, but all indications are that they are heading toward that eventuality. Growing the program and bringing in experienced ex-players as coaches are good steps in the right direction.