Normally, fans from the area have to watch their favorite soccer players on TV, but on Wednesday night, the town of Turlock gathered to watch a professional Major League Soccer team in person as the San Jose Earthquakes came into town to wrap up their preseason with a friendly contest against Sacramento Republic FC.
The Quakes won their game in front of an enthusiastic Turlock crowd, 2-0. In the match, the stalemate was finally broken by the Earthquakes in the 86th minute, when a Walter Martinez cross was headed by Alan Gordon, only to find the head of rookie JJ Koval, who scored his first goal in a San Jose uniform.
The Quakes would score again shortly after when Billy Schuler coolly slotted home a bouncing ball in the box during stoppage time.
“I have never been here [Turlock] before, but the field was nice tonight and there was a nice crowd so it was a fun time,” Earthquakes starting right back Brandon Barklage said as he hobbled off the field.
The game took place at Warrior Stadium on the campus of California State University, Stanislaus and was the kick start to the Quakes developmental teams’ inaugural season. The unnamed Under-23 Premier Development League team for the Quakes will call Turlock their home for this upcoming season.
“It’s a great community here for soccer and we felt that having the Quakes here would be a great way to kick off the PDL team that is going to be playing here all summer, so we were thrilled to have the game against the Sacramento Republic,” President David Kaval of San Jose Earthquakes said.
CSU Stanislaus men’s soccer coach Dana Taylor has not officially given the go-ahead to be the head coach, but there has been serious talk and he is considered to be the top candidate, however there is some time needed to think about it Taylor said.
Not only is Taylor the Stanislaus coach but he also heads a local U-13 Earthquakes FC squad that has talented young players from all over the Valley.
The city of Turlock already has their own professional indoor soccer team in the Turlock Express, along with two collegiate teams that represent California State University, Stanislaus, and a pair of high school programs with several championships, as well as established youth and travel leagues that develop great talent. It is safe to say that Turlock is a soccer savvy town.
“Turlock has a great soccer tradition, a great complex here and a great group of people to work with and that is why we chose to do it here,” Kaval said. “Great family entertainment, affordable prices and great way to catch some soccer.”
The talks of bringing the Quakes to Turlock came to life about two years ago but it wasn’t until the last six months that the conversation began to get serious.
“Last year the earthquakes management was out here and met with our AD and a couple of city of Turlock officials and from there work was going on for about six months,” Taylor said. “And again it is to help promote the PDL team in the near future which will be in May.”
The turnout was a successful one as coach Taylor and company had less than a week to promote the event due to a quick turnout that was a last minute installment.
“We got the tickets on Friday. Shows the commitment of the community,” Taylor said. “The stadium was about three quarters full and it has been great since we had such a short time frame.”
“We want to thank everyone for making it a big success,” Kaval said about the successful turnout.
The PDL team that has yet to announce their team name, but they were already selling season tickets for all seven games for $50 at the event .
The PDL team’s season will begin on May 9 with its first home game scheduled for May 31 against the OC Blues.
The Earthquakes ill kick-off their regular season at home on March 15 against Real Salt Lake with the game pitch set to begin at 7:30 p.m.