Earthquakes’ Rich History on Display Against DC United
Last saturday night, under the bright lights of Avaya Stadium, the San Jose Earthquakes celebrated an important part Major League Soccer’s history. The Quakes took on DC United and commemorated the first ever MLS match played on April 6th, 1996 at Spartan Stadium. The Quakes re-created the opening ceremony that took place in 1996, honored the 1996 Clash team at halftime, and spent over two weeks building up interest and marketing the historic milestone.
One of the best part of Saturday’s celebration was the atmosphere. Both the (large) outdoor bar and the seats of the stadium were packed. The fans were involved in the game from the beginning, and boosted the team to a quick and exciting start.
The San Jose Ultras brought out a brilliant tifo, commemorating George Best, Peter Bridgewater and Gabbo Gavric – three members of the San Jose Earthquakes organization whose contributions were instrumental in the emergence of the team. Best is a Manchester United legend, and one of the greatest to ever play the game. He played for the Quakes in the old NASL from 1980-1982. Peter Bridgewater was a general manager for the NASL Quakes, a venue director for Stanford Stadium at the 1994 FIFA World Cup, a founder of the Western Soccer Alliance which later became the USL First Division, and the San Jose Clash’s first president. Momcilo “Gabbo” Gavric spent a season as a kicker for the San Francisco 49ers, and also played for the old NPSL’s Oakland Clippers. He joined the Earthquakes in their inaugural NASL season in 1974, and was an extremely active member of the Bay Area soccer community. The three have all passed away – Bridgewater and Best in 2005, and Gavric in 2010. Since then, all three have also been inducted into the Quakes Hall of Fame.
This rich part of Quakes history serves was likely one of the reasons that Major League Soccer chose to play their first game ever in San Jose. The game wasn’t played in Los Angeles or New York, the founders chose the Bay Area to host the first game.
— Quakes Epicenter (@QuakesEpicenter) February 19, 2016
The first game did not disappoint either, with a last minute goal by Eric Wynalda to win the game for the San Jose Clash. The iconic kits that the Clash wore in their inaugural season were sources of inspiration for some of the apparel that the Earthquakes sold and gave out last Saturday.
The Quakes also sold throwback merchandise at the game including 20th Anniversary Clash scarves and tee-shirts. The apparel, priced at $30 each, sold out within roughly an hour of the gates opening at Avaya Stadium. It was so popular, Quakes president Dave Kaval has stated that he is going to look into possibly ordering another round of shirts and scarves.
But it didn’t end there, the team also ended up putting the custom warm up jerseys they used up for sale a few days after the game. All of the warm up jerseys sold out within a couple hours, despite being made available in the middle of a work day.
The night was a success on all fronts – the Quakes celebrated their history and the league’s history, the front office sold a lot of great apparel, the atmosphere at the stadium was phenomenal, and Adam Jahn scored a late equalizer to send fans home with at least a point. The team did an excellent job of building up excitement for the 20th Anniversary Match, and the result of that was seen all across Avaya Stadium. The deep history of the Quakes is one that they should continue to celebrate and market heavily, as it is something that sets them apart from most, if not all, MLS teams.