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Q&A: Earthquakes gerente general Jesse Fioranelli discute el rápido ascenso de San Jose

Realizó y traducido por Nick Eilerson

Una racha de suerte imprevista. Una afición revitalizada. Una dormida franquicia de repente en posición por los playoffs.

No, no hablamos de los Giants de San Francisco. El equipo profesional más caliente del Bay Area este verano ha sido el San Jose Earthquakes, un antiguo hazmerreír que solamente necesitaba unas semanas para transformarse en uno de los clubes más fuertes de Major League Soccer.

El Earthquakes ha perdido solo dos veces desde el 11 de mayo, reanimándose bajo el liderazgo de nuevo entrenador Matías Almeyda para establecerse como contendiente legítimo con menos de dos meses quedando en la temporada de 2019. La derrota por 2-1 del pasado fin de semana en Colorado cayó San Jose al cuarto lugar de la Conferencia Oeste, pero eso le deja firmemente en caza de los playoffs con un juego de carretera ante Sporting Kansas City esta noche de sábado.

El 3 de agosto, el Chronicle realizó una entrevista exclusiva con Earthquakes gerente general Jesse Fioranelli. Ahora en su tercer año con San Jose, el nativo de Suiza de 39 años está disfrutando del resurgimiento de su club después de sufrir una temporada desastrosa de 2018 en la cual el Earthquakes terminó en último lugar con un récord de 4-9-21, lo peor registro en la historia del club.

Esta entrevista, realizada en inglés, ha sido editada por su extensión y claridad. Continue reading Q&A: Earthquakes gerente general Jesse Fioranelli discute el rápido ascenso de San Jose

Q&A: Earthquakes GM Jesse Fioranelli discusses San Jose’s rapid rise

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An unforeseen hot steak. A reinvigorated fan base. A dormant franchise suddenly catapulted into playoff contention.

No, we’re not talking about the San Francisco Giants. The Bay Area’s hottest pro team this summer has been the San Jose Earthquakes, a former laughingstock that needed mere weeks to morph into one of the strongest clubs in Major League Soccer.

The Earthquakes have lost just twice since May 11, rallying behind first-year coach Matías Almeyda to establish themselves as legitimate contenders with less than two months left on the regular-season docket. Last weekend’s 2-1 defeat in Colorado dropped San Jose (11-8-5) to fourth place in the Western Conference, but that leaves them firmly in the playoff hunt with a road game against Sporting Kansas City on tap Saturday night.

On Aug. 3 the Chronicle conducted an exclusive interview with Earthquakes General Manager Jesse Fioranelli. Now in his third year with San Jose, the 39-year-old Switzerland native is enjoying his club’s resurgence after enduring a disastrous 2018 campaign that saw the Earthquakes finish in last place with a 4-21-9 record, the worst mark in franchise history.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. Continue reading Q&A: Earthquakes GM Jesse Fioranelli discusses San Jose’s rapid rise

Revitalized San Jose Earthquakes ride MLS’ surging wave of Latin American talent

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Carlos Fierro glanced toward the field at Avaya Stadium and flashed a wry smile. The Mexican midfielder had just been asked about his reception from fans of the San Jose Earthquakes, the team that signed him June 25.

He didn’t hesitate.

“I’m really happy with how the fans welcomed me,” Fierro said in Spanish. “There are a lot of Mexicans here that embraced me, and some Americans, too.” Continue reading Revitalized San Jose Earthquakes ride MLS’ surging wave of Latin American talent

George Kittle doesn’t care what you think. He just wants to play football.

[READ FEATURE IN THE MERCURY NEWS]

It is too early to function. The sun isn’t even up, not even close. Garrett Celek, the San Francisco 49ers’ veteran tight end, barely wills himself into his car, his body aching from yet another loss two days earlier. Santa Clara lies completely still on this mid-November morning as Celek’s white Lexus SUV begins to roll forward.

But then up ahead … movement. Tons of movement.

The SUV’s headlights reveal a large man flailing next to the apartment complex’s exit gate. His hips rock back and forth in an apparent attempt at rhythm. His arms swing wildly from side to side. All the while, his gaze remains fixed on Celek’s face.

George Kittle is doing the Fortnite floss dance.

Beaming like he just won the Super Bowl, Kittle hops into the passenger seat and serenades his groggy teammate with some song or another. It doesn’t matter which one. What matters is that Kittle will spend yet another day shining his inextinguishable light upon a 49ers season largely mired in darkness.

“When I was first getting to know him I probably thought it was fake at first how happy he was all the time,” Celek said. “But then I realized, ‘No, this is how this guy is 24/7.’” Continue reading George Kittle doesn’t care what you think. He just wants to play football.

This East Bay teenager is headed to Churchill Downs seeking a victory

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John Del Secco squeezed his brown cowboy boot firmly onto the gas pedal.

The 18-year-old’s Ford F150 — silver and black, the color scheme of his favorite football team — bolted out of Danville’s sleepy suburbs and made a hard turn westward onto Highway 24.

It was 4:15 a.m. on a Saturday, and Del Secco’s mind was already spinning. His horses awaited his care. They required new grain, water, medication; bandages needed changing, legs needed rub-downs, stalls needed mucking.

Then he let his thoughts slip further down the road, to the raucous culmination of so many mornings like this one.

“I’m a small-town boy going to the big city, I guess,” Del Secco said.

He was not referring to Oakland. Continue reading This East Bay teenager is headed to Churchill Downs seeking a victory

Verbal abuse from parents, coaches is causing a referee shortage in youth sports

[READ FEATURE IN THE WASHINGTON POST]

Warren Graver raised the whistle to his lips midway through the second half, bracing to shift his focus from the sideline hysterics to the girls’ soccer game at hand three years ago.

And that’s when the veteran youth soccer referee saw two men walking onto the field.

It was a Sunday afternoon at an under-16 tournament in Vienna, and Graver had just ejected an invective-spewing coach. Without warning or permission, two angry parents marched across the field to take the coach’s place on the bench.

Uncertainty gripped Graver. Emotions were running high. There was no field marshal or senior official in the vicinity. It was the only time Graver can remember feeling fear as a referee.

“It could have easily escalated into something physical,” Graver said.

Following a decade as a referee, Graver returned for one more season. But he said that incident in Vienna crystallized a creeping realization: His days in the job were numbered.

“I said, ‘I would rather spend my time on the weekends with my kids and with my wife than stand out here and be abused by these parents,’ ” said Graver, who kept good to his word and hasn’t been a referee in the past two years. “It doesn’t make sense.”

Graver’s experience — or something similar — plays out every weekend across the country.

Administrators contend that escalating verbal abuse is partially to blame for a dwindling referee pool in youth and high school sports. The fallout is crippling officiating bodies mired in a deeply cutthroat sports culture, one that often holds amateur referees to a professional standard. Continue reading Verbal abuse from parents, coaches is causing a referee shortage in youth sports

This amateur soccer team, based in a liquor store, never practices and rarely loses

[READ FEATURE IN THE WASHINGTON POST]

The plumber in the liquor store lowered his nearly empty can of Natural Light and laughed.

Collin Fisher, the starting right back on the team that doesn’t train, had just been asked how he stays in shape. Sure, Christos FC’s most tenacious defender plays pickup indoor soccer games on occasion, but what about off the field? Did he lift weights? Belong to a gym? Ogle a treadmill?

“The last time I ran was probably in high school,” he said.

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Fisher doesn’t have time to train, at least not during the weeks he is on call 24 hours a day as a plumber/gas fitter. Neither does attacking midfielder Daniel Baxter, an X-ray technician working night shifts in the shock trauma center of Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center. Or starting center back Josh Taylor, an audio/visual equipment sales manager whose only practice tool is his daughter’s size-3 soccer ball.

All form part of the last amateur squad left in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, a single-elimination tournament traditionally dominated by pro teams. Christos FC, the Baltimore-based club named after and headquartered in a discount liquor store, will take on four-time Major League Soccer champion D.C. United in a fourth-round matchup at Maryland SoccerPlex on Tuesday night. Continue reading This amateur soccer team, based in a liquor store, never practices and rarely loses