What were you doing ten years ago? If you are a long-time San Jose Earthquakes fan, you were probably glued to your television watching the club’s return to Major League Soccer after a two-year absence. That evening, down at The Home Depot Center in Carson, the Quakes faced their bitter rivals LA Galaxy to open the 2008 MLS regular season.
It looked like San Jose would get off to a dream start that night. In just the third minute defender Ryan Cochrane headed a ball past goalkeeper Steve Cronin to give the Quakes an apparent lead. However, the play was ruled offside, muting an otherwise promising start.
“Obviously, it would have been great to score that goal and set the tone for the game,” Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop said at the time. “In the first half, we were very cautious and we let them play. We looked a little nervous.”
The squad, put together through the MLS Expansion Draft and other player acquisitions, was a bit shaky from that point forward, and a defensive miscue in the 9th minute was punished by the star-laden Galaxy. Landon Donovan intercepted a back pass and sprung David Beckham for a one-on-one against goalkeeper Joe Cannon. The Quakes Hall-of-Famer did his best to stop the MLS Original Designated Player, but Beckham calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. It was the English legend’s first career MLS goal.
Just before halftime, it was Donovan getting on the scoreboard, as Beckham launched a trademark long ball over the defensive line for the forward to settle. The MLS all-time leading goal scorer calmly chipped the onrushing Cannon to double the Galaxy lead. Notably, Alan Gordon, who gained fame as the regular guy in LA’s lockerroom, provided the secondary assist.
The Quakes held the Galaxy scoreless in the second half, but they also failed to create many scoring chances of their own, and the game finished with a 2-0 scoreline. It was a tough way to make their return to MLS, but the Earthquakes still fell victim to their rivals pedigree on the night.
“LA actually played pretty well first half,” Yallop said. “I have to commend the guys for their spirit that they didn’t just roll over and die. It just shows where we are at. We aren’t a bad team, but we still have a way to go.”
San Jose would earn its first victory of the season two weeks later at the Colorado Rapids, but 2008 as a whole was one big learning lesson. The Quakes finished the year with a 8-13-9 overall record, last place overall in the MLS standings, and yet somehow tied with the Galaxy on 33 points. It was a tough season for San Jose and its fans, but having the team back overshadowed any disappointment on the field.
San Jose Earthquakes 0-2 LA Galaxy
The Home Depot Center, Carson, CA — Attendance 27,000
San Jose Earthquakes lineup: Joe Cannon; Jason Hernandez, Ryan Cochrane, Nick Garcia (C), James Riley; Ronnie O’Brien, Ramiro Corrales, Ned Grabavoy (Ryan Johnson, 85), Ivan Guerrero (John Cunliffe, 69); Kei Kamara, Shea Salinas (Gavin Glinton, 57).