Storylines is impressed by this weekend’s opponents, plain and simple. Not just by what they’ve got going on right now, but by what their franchise has accomplished in years past. They’ve seen some of the best forwards in league history don their colors, creating quite the legacy of attacking excellence on their way to two MLS Cup titles.
Though they’ve popped in and out of the league a few times, soccer in San Jose has been a staple of Major League Soccer since the early days, and they’ve built quite the resume of stars leading their line. Notable names like Eric Wynalda and Ronald Cerritos racked up the goals for the Quakes, as did MNUFC’s Chief Soccer Officer, Manny Lagos.
Plenty of talented players have come through the San Jose locker room, but two names stand out above the rest: Chris Wondolowski and Landon Donovan. Not only are they numbers one and two, respectively, on the league’s all-time scoring charts, they’re local lads that set the American soccer scene alight for decades.
With 171 goals, all but four of which he scored for the Quakes, Wondo is the most prolific scorer in league history. Many USMNT fans remember him for a certain shot at the 2014 World Cup, which is fair, but his legacy shouldn’t be marred by a miss. He’s among the greatest MLS players of all time, spending his entire career in the USA and earning his spot at the summit of the record books.
That other guy was pretty good as well. Landon Donovan scored 145 times in MLS and 57 times for the national team, a tally that ties him with Clint Dempsey for the most in USMNT history. He’s widely regarded as the greatest USMNT player to ever wear the colors, though the new generation may give him a run for his money. His breakout years were spent in the blue of San Jose, where his short-lived experiment with blonde hair created some truly iconic photos. He was a driving force behind both of San Jose’s MLS Cup triumphs, scoring 41 goals for the club before finding a bit more success with their noisy neighbors in LA.
The good ol’ days were quite good, but there’s still plenty to be excited about in the Quakes’ attacking corps. This season’s performances from Jeremy Ebobisse and Cristian Espinoza have given the team a new lease on life, bagging 20 of their team's 31 goals between the two of them. They’re carrying on the legacy of some of the best forwards this league has ever seen, and they’ve acquitted themselves admirably.
And there’s even more to look forward to. The recent acquisition of striker Matthew Hoppe is an exciting addition to the squad, giving the Quakes another piece to use as they build the future of their club. Pair him with fellow US international and Quakes Academy product Cade Cowell, and you’ve got the beginnings of a dangerous front three.
While the young guns haven’t been firing much this year, they’ve shown promising flashes. Cowell’s talent is undeniable, with speed and technical ability that make him a constant threat when he’s on the field. Hoppe has only just started his Quakes career, making substitute appearances in just two matches, but they’ll be hoping to see his name on the scoresheet soon.
2023 has been a bit of a mixed bag for San Jose fans, but one thing has remained constant: they’ve always had plenty of attacking talent to enjoy during their matches. With a hostile crowd around them and valuable points up for grabs, the Loons are going to need to be vigilant and ready to weather quite the storm.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Minnesota United FC
PayPal Park | San Jose, California
09.02.2023 | MLS Game #26
9:30 p.m. CT (Watch free on MLS Season Pass, 1500 ESPN)