On Thursday, the San Jose Earthquakes released their full schedule for next year, so now we can start getting excited about matches that will not be contested for months. Now that Cristian Espinoza has being acquired on a permanent transfer, we have a pretty clear vision of what the lineup will look like next season. Let’s take a look at the schedule and some games that immediately stand out as must-watch matches next season
Saturday, February 29 vs. Toronto FC
Year two of the Matias Almeyda experiment starts off with a big challenge when last seasons Eastern Conference champions visit Avaya Stadium on opening weekend. Toronto FC recently re-signed their captain Michael Bradley and are looking to have a better regular season after only making the playoffs last year because of goal differential.
If the Quakes want to make a statement to the league that they intend to improve upon last season and actually become a playoff team, this first match is a perfect time.
Saturday, March 21 vs. Sporting Kansas City
The team formerly known as “The Wiz” has never been much of a rival to the Quakes as they have bounced from Western Conference to Eastern Conference and back over their history.
This season, however, Sporting was the team that won the Alan Pulido lottery and put down the money to bring the Mexican scoring champion to MLS. Several media outlets linked the Quakes to Pulido because he was managed by Almeyda from 2016-2018 when the Argentinian was in charge of Chivas de Guadalajara. The 28-year-old striker is looking to make an immediate impact on a team that missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Add in the extra excitement of going up against your old boss, and this looks like a fun early season matchup.
Saturday, April 11 vs. D.C. United
Twenty-four years and five days after the Quakes faced D.C. United in the first MLS match ever the two teams are meeting again in San Jose.
In 1996 the Quakes were known as The Clash, and they played their home games at Spartan Stadium. 31,000 people showed up to watch the Clash win the first-ever league match in history 1-0 on a goal by American soccer legend Eric Wynalda. This time the venue will be 18,000 seat Avaya Stadium, which might have a smaller capacity but is wholly owned by the Quakes and has been home since the 2015 season.
D.C. United tied Toronto with 50 points last season but was left out of the playoffs because of goal differential. Even though this is a cross-conference match, they will be playing for all three points, even in April.
Saturday, April 18 at Inter Miami CF
This will be the Quakes first chance to see what David Beckham and company have put together in South Florida. All reports point to an ownership group that is trying to put together a team that will be a playoff contender in their first season. Although they have yet to name a head coach.
Saturday, May 9 vs. Los Angeles Football Club
There are two big questions I have going into this match. One, how long before the Quakes get their first victory over the black-and-gold? They have yet to get a win since LA joined the league in 2018. Two, will the 3252 take-over the southern stands at Avaya Stadium again? Usually, away supporters are put up in the top half of one of Avaya’s sections, and there is always room to spare. When LAFC showed up to Avaya last season, their supporters took over three whole sections of the stadium and had the stands literally pulsing.
Seriously though, they have to figure out a way to Beat LA, be it FC or Galaxy.
Saturday, June 13 at Los Angeles Galaxy
Speaking of the pride of Carson, the first Cali Clasico of the season is scheduled to be played at Dignity Health Sports Park home of the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Galaxy lost Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who wanted to go back to Europe after an individually successful stint in MLS. Signing a like-for-like replacement to one of the most legendary players in history is no simple task. Still, Guillermo Barros Schelotto wasted no time in filling in that gap. He went out and got 34-year-old midfielder Sacha Kljestan from Orlando City, and the whole Western Conference shuttered.
Of course, I write that with my tongue firmly planted against my cheek. Although Kljestan struggled in his time in Orlando, if he can find his groove, he can provide at least 15 assists to his team as he did in 2016 and 2017 when he was a member of the New York Red Bulls.
Saturday, June 20 vs. Nashville SC
Two teams are joining MLS next season. One being Inter Miami CF, as noted above, the other being Nashville SC. The Quakes will actually face this team twice this season as they were put in the Western Conference, but the first meeting will be in San Jose.
This match will also mark the return of Anibal Godoy to Avaya after being traded to Nashville last season. The Panamanian made 101 appearances in black-and-blue menacing opposing teams that tried to play through the middle of the pitch.
Saturday, June 27 vs. LA Galaxy at Stanford Stadium
The second edition of the 2020 Cali Clasico will take place in a proper venue, Stanford Stadium. The home of the Cardinal will host the Clasico for the 9th time and will be the second time in as many weeks that the Quakes face their bitter rival from the South.
Even if you are not a fan of soccer of the Quakes, this is a must-watch event for any sports fan in the Bay Area. The atmosphere is unmatched, and the fireworks show at the end of the match is a great way to end a night of soccer.
My biggest tip for anyone going for the first time is TAKE CALTRAIN! Memorial Stadium is an old stadium surrounded by an oak grove that acts as a parking lot. The “parking lot” has no signage, no lights, and a lot of dry creekbeds that love to sneak up on you as you are searching in vain for your vehicle. Also, because college kids don’t consume alcohol, there is no beer served in the stadium. Luckily Caltrain allows you to drink on their trains until 9 pm, which should give you enough time to get another couple of beers in before heading into the stadium. The wait for the train after the match can get a bit long, but the bridge the station sits on gives you a perfect vantage point to see the fireworks show.
Sunday, October 4 vs. Colorado Rapids
There are more interesting matches during the summer, but with a new team being added to the Western Conference, getting into the playoffs is going to get trickier. Even if the Quakes do improve their performance over last season. Ideally, the Quakes will be in such a comfortable position in the standings that the Decision Day match will serve as a warm-up for the playoffs.
Realistically this team is going to have to scratch-and-claw their way through the season and will probably need a favorable result at home to have a chance at the postseason. The rapids finished last season right below the Quakes in the standings after going winless in the first 11 matches of the season. The Rapids locked up a couple of young, promising defenders in Lalas Abubakar and Austin Trusty, and like the Quakes are hoping for better results in 2020.
To see the rest of the schedule for 2020, click here.