To say San Jose had a bad 2014 season is an understatement. But there were certain key players who, despite the results running against them, consistently played well. This type of player is as important to a team when things aren’t going right as when they are; perhaps more so.
Chris Wondolowski came back from Brazil and still scored goals, Jon Busch made spectacular save after save, but there were also players, perhaps not often singled out for mention, who nevertheless toiled in the thick of battle. One such player for San Jose last season was Birmingham, UK-born Jordan Stewart.
Jordan Barrington Stewart was born in 1982 in Birmingham and came to the Quakes after playing for Leicester City, Bristol Rovers, Watford, and Derby. At Watford he played alongside US legend Jay DeMerit as part of the side that won promotion to the EPL.
Jordan Stewart is on the Earthquakes MLS Draft protected list and, if he continues to remain relatively injury-free, will play a key role in the reshaping of the Quakes in preparation for the 2015 season.
Right from his first year with the Quakes Stewart’s often verbal organization of the back four did much to free up Shea Salinas. Given his generally consistent and pacey forward movement down the left flank, Salinas has to be one considered one of the main routes to the offense next season.
Stewart is a good example of the journeyman professional, finding new challenges in MLS. He’s the kind of player who proves that older, more experienced European players can sometimes be a great asset to the US game.
39 years before Jordan Stewart arrived to stake his place in the San Jose Earthquakes story another Brummie, Paul Child, joined the club. Last year the NASL legend was inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame. Child emerged as one of the first superstars of the original 1974 Earthquakes NASL squad. He led the league that year, scoring 15 goals, tallying 6 assists and earning First-Team All-Star honors. He scored 61 goals over the course of 6 seasons for the club.
When asked what was his most memorable Earthquakes moment, Child said:
"When we played the New York Cosmos. Playing against players that I grew up watching – Pele, Beckenbauer - you know, all the top players in the world played for the New York Cosmos. We won the game 2-1."
Other Birmingham Earthquakes connections (however tenuous) can be seen in the use of the color blue (Birmingham City FC - "The Blues"), in the playing of Iron Man by Black Sabbath prior to games (Black Sabbath are from Birmingham), and even in where the bloke writing this article is from!
Brummies are rightly renowned for their dry wit. When asked what the main difference was between soccer in England and California, Stewart grinned and said,
"It doesn’t rain as much."