The wait is over.
After agonizing through weeks of contentious Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, wondering whether the MLS season would start at scheduled, the San Jose Earthquakes and their supporters can collectively breathe a sigh of relief and get on with the show.
In Texas this week for the first of two away games to start the 2015 campaign, the Quakes kick off against a fellow MLS original club, FC Dallas. The match will be played at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, which earlier this week was hit with a winter storm that blanketed the red seats of the venue with powdery white snow. The weather has improved since then, and the match is expected to kick off at 5:30 p.m. Pacific time without incident.
For San Jose, which is welcomes head coach Dominic Kinnear back into the fold, the task at hand is to end a 15-game winless streak that began last summer. The Quakes finished in last place in the Western Conference in 2014, behind now defunct Chivas USA, and will need to improve dramatically to compete in the new and improved 10-team west this season.
FC Dallas was a playoff team last year, and they are looking to build on that momentum and take advantage of a fit Mauro Diaz to start the season on a bright note. Former Earthquakes midfielder Atiba Harris signed with the Hoops in the offseason and will want to make Kinnear regret letting him go.
Meanwhile, the Quakes are hoping that they can get all three of their Designated Players on the field at the same time, as this week saw the return of Innocent Emeghara to training. Kinnear indicated that the Swiss International would be available against FC Dallas, but did not say whether he would be part of the staring line up alongside Chris Wondolowski and Matias Perez Garica.
The Earthquakes will be without Jordan Stewart, who is out with a calf injury, and perhaps center back Clarence Goodson as well. New signing Paulo Renato, formerly from the Portuguese second division, will likely pair with Victor Bernardez in the heart of the San Jose defense.
For supporters that want to watch the Quakes season debut on television, the match will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area starting at 5:30 p.m. For those stuck in their cars, radios should be tuned to 1590 KLIV for English or 1370 KZSF for Spanish language broadcasts. The game will be available streaming online through the MLS Live application.
The Earthquakes will next play at Seattle against the Sounders next Saturday at 7:00 p.m.