The San Jose Earthquakes are gearing up for their return to action after a three-week break in MLS play on Saturday, when they face Austin FC for the teams’ first-ever meeting.
It won’t just be any old first-time meeting, however, as Austin will be playing their first game in their brand-new stadium, Q2 Stadium, as well.
Among the Earthquakes, there was a variety of perspectives in terms of approaching the clash.
Head coach Matias Almeyda was excited by the occasion and paid tribute to the opponent.
“It is a pleasure to [open the stadium],” Almeyda told reporters via interpreter. “Also we have lots of admiration for them personally. I think they’ve quickly formed a good team with good players. From what we’ve seen the stadium looks really nice and we’re excited to be in front of the fans in the new stadium with families and hopefully we have a good performance.”
But for attacker Cristian Espinoza, his attitude was more along the lines of it being like any other game and approaching it that way.
“I think we have to go into the game with the same intensity, the same idea,” said Espinoza through an interpreter. “Given the fact that they’re opening up their new stadium, it does not have to alter our style of play, it does not have to change any of those things. We just have to go in, play our style and we have a really great team in front of us as well.”
In contrast, midfielder Jackson Yueill, back with San Jose fresh off his Concacaf Nations League triumph with the U.S. Men’s National Team, is on board with embracing the spectacle and trying to play the spoiler on the day.
“Yeah, we’re excited. I think it’ll be my first time ever opening a stadium. Even though it’s away I think it’ll be a really cool moment and a great game. We’re looking forward to even though they’re not our fans, playing with fans again. Going to try to ruin the party, I guess,” Yueill said with a laugh. “But we’re excited to be back. It was a little bit of a break here and we struggled a little bit beforehand, but you know the team looks really good and they’re working hard and you know we’re excited to get back on the field and bounce back after a couple tough matches that we’ve had. So we’re trying to respond on these road games and it starts with Austin and we’re ready to play.”
In 22 previous brand-new soccer-specific stadiums opened by MLS clubs, the home team has gone 13W-4L-5D. So San Jose will have their work cut out for them, but the task of being the spoiler on the field is not impossible, right? That’s what the Earthquakes will set out to prove on Saturday when they take on Austin FC in Q2 Stadium.
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