In this week’s newsletter: What Tom Fox says, DP Drive, and more insider coverage of the San Jose Earthquakes!
New Earthquakes President Tom Fox pitched his vision for the club at an introductory press conference last week and we’ve compiled the key takeaways from his first press gaggle in San Jose:
On ramping up with the Quakes:
“It’s been a very quick process. I’m only here for four or five days, I have to go back to London and pack up my life of eight years before I come back. I’m really starting July first but I wanted to come out here to spend some time getting to know the staff, starting to get to know that market so that even when I’m back in London I feel like I’m connected. Thankfully, I’ve been in the US sports business for a long time. The people that run the league in New York, I know well. I’ve grown up with many of those people, so I’ve got a huge support group there that are willing and able to help me. I’ve already spoken to the Commissioner and Gary Stevenson, and Howard Handler, who’s the chief marketing officer, and I started our careers together at Quaker together in 1985. I’ve got some good relationships there so I think I’ve got a good base from which to begin to learn and do some of the things I was talking about earlier. It’s been a bit like drinking from a firehose and I think it’s going to be that for the next couple months for me.”
On closing the wage inequality gap in MLS:
“At some level, someone’s willingness to lose a lot of money is not a gap that you’re probably ever going to be willing to close and from my perspective, nor do you ever really want to. I use my Arsenal experience as a great sort of metaphor for this. At Arsenal, everything we did at that club we did on the back of the revenue that we generated ourselves. That club is self-sustaining, it does not incur operating losses each year and yet it has fantastic success. To me, in this marketplace, what we want to do here is to deliver consistency, competitiveness, and success. We don’t want to do it by spending the most money, we want to do it by spending enough money to give us the ability to be successful. That’s the more exciting part of the journey for me, how you enable the operation to deliver the success on a consistent basis by being better at what you do, by being smarter about how you approach the football side of the operation. That’s much more interesting to me than spending your way to success.”
On engaging with fans in open-office hours
“Dave [Kaval] and I are so similar in that way. I did that at Arsenal, I made myself available to anyone that wanted to talk, and I built relationships with some of the great, longtime supporters there, some of the traveling fans. At Villa, I had people in my office on a regular basis to try to explain to them what was happening at the club, why that was such a difficult turnaround, and to try to let them know that I understood that they had frustrations and what their hopes for the club were. It’s probably my favorite part of the job, if I’m honest, is getting out and talking to the people. Football clubs exist for the fans. We’re not in the business of selling tickets and food, we’re in the business of selling pride and belonging. The more that we can make our fans feel a part of what we’re doing as if they belong to the club, and the more that they feel pride for the things that we do in the community and on the field, the business takes care of itself. I want to communicate that to as many individual people that I can: I’ll be available, I’ll be around, I’ll be visible. That’s frankly the part of the job that I like best.”
On the importance of results:
“In order to be more relevant in this marketplace, we have to win. In order to win, you have to have a football operation that has a strong point of view, that has an infrastructure that is making all the right moves from the development of young players all the way up to the first team. That is a long-term journey that we need to be on. Thankfully, the ownership group has already started to put those pieces in place before I got here.
“[Results are] fundamental. If we can start to generate some consistency in our results and generate a style of play that’s exciting to watch, which I know we will do under Jesse and his team, we will start to be competitive, then we will start to win, and then we will start to attract the audience we want.”
Fox’s press conference was partly overshadowed by news that the Quakes intend to sign a new Designated Player by the end of June, per General Manager Jesse Fioranelli. Speaking to Quakes Talk and other media outlets after Fox’s press conference, Fioranelli confirmed the club are “at the point…[where] we are not too far away from announcing the acquisition by the end of June.”
The signing is being billed as the club’s first-ever big-name acquisition, although Fioranelli said the Quakes are prioritizing the quality of the player over their name recognition. He cited numerous criteria, specifically that the player be under the age of twenty-eight, speak English (which rules out vast expanses of the talent pool), and “really wants to come here.” Fioranelli also hinted that it would be an attacking midfielder, saying the player will be able to “carry the weight connecting the midfield to the attack.”
The news is already lingering in the back of players’ minds. “Jesse said that it’s a great player for the offense,” defender Florian Jungwirth told Quakes Talk. “I think we’ve trusted him from the first day, on one side because he took a great German player [laughs]. If he said this guy will help the team, then we trust him. We’re happy for a new guy in our squad and we’ll help him to integrate quickly.”
Stay tuned to Quakes Talk as the story develops over the coming weeks.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Quakes return to action tonight against the SF Deltas, who recently kicked off their inaugural season in the NASL. With numerous players away on international duty, including regular starters Jahmir Hyka, Marco Ureña, and Anibal Godoy, Quakes coach Dominic Kinnear sees the US Open Cup matchup as an opportunity for younger, non-starters to get some minutes.
“Guys get called away to the national team for a reason, they’re liked and well-respected within their country,” he told Quakes Talk at training on Tuesday. “So for the guys that maybe haven’t been playing, it’s about training well and keeping your motivation towards the team, then performing well when given a chance.”
The Quakes will then have a quick turnaround to face Sporting Kansas City at Avaya Stadium on Saturday night. Peter Vermes’ men are currently top of the Western Conference but recently hit a rough patch having taken just four points from their last four games. SKC defeated the Quakes 2-1 in March, their last league meeting.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
— David Bingham (@BinghamDb) June 10, 2017
AFTERSHOCKS: FROM THE WEEK’S NEWS
SJEarthquakes.com: In my words: Simon Dawkins reflects on career path, becoming a father
The Dick & Vic Soccer Hour: Aftermath at the Epicenter
#QuincyTime Vlog: Episode 2
MLSSoccer.com: California Clasico Vlog
MLS All-Star Voting
Nominate your own San Jose Earthquakes players for the 2017 MLS All-Star Game here. Fans can vote once per day.
TRUCKEE TALK: RENO 1868 UPDATE
Reno 1868 secured two important victories last week to go eighth in the USL standings, defeating Rio Grande Valley 3-2 and local rivals the Sacramento Republic 2-0. The two home victories extended their league unbeaten streak to seven matches, the second-best league record in that timespan. Dane Kelly, the league’s top scorer, also got on the scoreboard in both games to take his tally to twelve goals so far this year.
The Under-13 and Under-14 squads concluded the Academy season with two statement victories over the San Joaquin Valley Soccer Academy, winning 10-0 and 6-0. Additionally, Under-16 players Dillon Keane and Mario Anaya were called up to the US Boys’ National Team, coached by former DeAnza Force Academy coach Shaun Tsakiris, for the 2017 International Dream Cup in Japan. Academy midfielder Andrew Paoli was also called up to the national team at the Under-18 level for the prestigious Lisbon International Tournament in Portugal.
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