Editorial – While we pass the time, waiting for MLS to hopefully re-kick off, Let’s take a look back at the San Jose Earthquakes best XI for the 2010-2019 decade. They only made playoffs three times in that decade, but there wasn’t a shortage of exciting players either. To make it interesting, I’ve compiled an 18 man roster of the best Quakes of the decade. Who knows, maybe a “worst XI” as well? Stick around to the end to find out.
San Jose Earthquakes: Best XI of the 2010’s
Goalkeeper: Jon Busch
This was an incredibly easy choice in my opinion. David Bingham was “fine” from 2015-2017. But his departure, Andrew Tarbell’s failure to latch in 2018, and just too short of a time for Daniel Vega to make his presence known, leaves the decade simply to Jon Busch.
“Some like it shaved, but we love Busch” would ring out at Buck Shaw from the Ultras at some point thanks to Busch making an insane save. Busch was a rare breed of GK. Like Nick Rimando, he was small in stature, but fearless. He was routinely amongst the top in the league in saves for the ‘Quakes when he played for the black and blue. He played in 150 matches for the Quakes, making 509 saves. One of his most impressive campaigns was in 2010, where he made 81 saves in 18 games and only allowed 19 goals against.
Left Back: Ramiro Corrales
Corrales would own this spot on the All-Time Quakes team. After beginning his career with the Clash for the first two seasons in MLS History, Corrales bounced around MLS until returning in 2001. Except for his stint in Norway while the Quakes were on hiatus for two years, Corrales spent the rest of his career with the Earthquakes. He made 129 appearances for the ‘Quakes from ’08 until he retired in 2013. A captain for many years, it was a no-brainer for his spot on this list. A close honorable mention though was Jordan Stewart.
Center Back Pair: Jason Hernandez and Victor Bernardez
There wasn’t a better two center-backs for the San Jose Earthquakes than those two. “Muma” and Hernandez were the rock to the backline that helped the ‘Quakes to the playoffs in 2012 and beyond. Ike Opara was also a very solid Center-Back, and eventually became a better player than those two, but not while in the Black and Blue. Another honorable mention would potentially be Florian Jungwirth, but he just hasn’t been around long enough to earn the street creds of Hernandez and Bernardez. Most ‘Quakes fans will agree that I wouldn’t even need to site stats here for this argument. Again, it’s pretty dang obvious.
Right Back: Stephen Beitashour
This one was really tough. Nick Lima is a very good shout, especially since he was the first HomeGrown to actually make an impact on the team. However, Beitashour’s 4 years were just that much better. Beitashour logged 7,676 minutes in an Earthquakes kit before going to Vancouver in 2015. He never experienced a better season in the stat sheet than he did in 2011 and 2012. He is arguably one of the first true “two-way” attacking fullbacks this league ever produced, and he should be regarded as a top ten fullback in league history.
Defensive Mid: Sam Cronin
Cronin was also a team captain at one point, and one of the most un-heralded Earthquakes in club history. He didn’t score a ton of goals but was a great commander in the midfield, and really helped take control of things in the middle of the park. He was also always spot on with positioning in regards to the buildup. The team had operated with a few different players at the CDM spot and even ran two CDM’s multiple times. But the 2012 ‘Quakes ran a 4-4-2 diamond, so that is what this team will run. Shocking how similar this all-decade team is to that 2012 squad, huh?
Left Mid: Valeri “Vako” Quazaishvili
This one was a hard one for me to solidify, but Vako is tied second all-time for Goals as an Earthquake with Landon Donovan. That’s right. Vako has scored 27 goals for the ‘Quakes. Vako has been the Earthquakes’ best imported Designated Player to date. While there were some questions, and still might be some questions surrounding him, Vako was one of the best players in the league last season for a 2-month stretch. He can strike from anywhere and is a cunning, creative player when cutting inside from the left.
Right Mid: Shea Salinas
Shea Salinas is an all-time Earthquake. Last season was one of his best ever, as he aged like a fine wine. But Salinas has had big moment, after big moment with the Earthquakes his entire career. He played provider for a number of “Gonnie-Time” wins, and his set-piece service was usually served on a platter to guys like Alan Gordon, Stephen Lenhart, and most of all, his good pal Chris Wondolowski. He’s scored 19 goals and provided 45 assists in his time as a ‘Quake, with 17 goals and 40 of those assists all coming in the last decade. His spot was easy.
Attacking Midfielder: Simon Dawkins
This spot was somewhat difficult to award, but Dawkins was a very good Quake for most of the time he was here. The first time during the loan spell, he was an incredibly difficult player to handle. The best version of Dawkins we ever got was the 2012 version, which floated between the wings, and CAM when Rafa Baca wasn’t in. He was much more productive than Baca in about a similar amount of games played. Dawkins is 10th all-time in goals scored in Earthquakes history. Let it be clear that this is mainly for first-stint Dawkins and not second stint.
Striker 1: Steven Lenhart
Obviously this means Alan Gordon doesn’t make the top XI, leaving out 1/3 of the Bash Bros. But Lenny meant more from a club standpoint. He was hated, absolutely hated as an Earthquake. He got under people’s skin, had the best goal celebrations, and has scored 23 goals for the ‘Quakes, obviously all coming in this decade. Other than Wondo and Vako, no ‘Quake scored more goals for the club over the decade. Lenny was the ‘Quakes culture, from on the field to off the field during their 2010-2014 stretch. Lenny was almost an on-field embodiment of the Ultras when it came to the passion he played with. Next to Wondo, his engine in the dying moments was un-matched.
Striker 2: Chris Wondolowski
This really doesn’t need to be explained. It’s obvious. Best goal-scorer in league history, best player in San Jose Earthquakes history.
Honorable Mention (Bench): Alan Gordon, Rafael Baca, Magnus Eriksson, Florian Jungwirth, Nick Lima, Anibal Godoy, David Bingham
Worst San Jose Earthquakes of the decade?
- GK: Andrew Tarbell
- Tons of promise, significant shot-blocking holes, like, really really bad.
- LB: Pablo Pintos
- Rated a 66 in FIFA, and that’s all the experience I ever had with him in a ‘Quakes kit.
- CB: Tommy Mueller
- Literally never made an appearance after being taken 15th overall in the MLS Draft in 2013
- CB: Francois Affolter
- RB: Andreas Görlitz
- Görlitz was super successful in Germany, only made 3 appearances before retiring after a torn ACL. Now has a pretty decent band called Whale City.
- CDM: Darwin Ceren
- A walking Red Card
- CDM: Jean Baptiste-Pierazzi
- Not the absolute worst, but a consistent fixture in one of the worst ‘Quakes eras ever, so yeah, pretty bad.
- CAM: Matias Perez Garcia
- He got two red cards in the final three matches during the run-in to the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs, costing the ‘Quakes crucial results in trying to make the postseason. None more egregious than the one for taking his shirt off after scoring a goal for his second yellow.
- LM: Leandro Barrera
- Played 6 games and didn’t even register a shot in 2015. Not great bob!
- RM: Sanna Nyasi
- Scored one dope goal, a trash goal, and still managed to see the field 28 times in that 2015 season. A constant flashback to Cornell Glen for the chances he was able to squander.
- ST: Innocent Emmeghara
- The Maurice Speights look-alike scored an insanely awesome goal in his second match ever, then was a wreck the rest of his career with the ‘Quakes. He might be one of the worst DP ever.