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The Earthquakes history began some twenty years before most of the MLS founding clubs came into existence. The Earthquakes began play as part of the North American Soccer League (NASL) in 1974 (until 1984) before joining the WSL (Western Soccer League) and eventually ending up as a founding member of the new League. Out of the gates, the team flourished (as the San Jose Clash), but the success lasted just long enough to reach the playoffs in the inaugural season before starting a downward spiral. After the initial success, the team struggled mightily until their rebranding to the Earthquakes in 1999 which concluded a string of four missed playoffs under three different coaches.
Under Frank Yallop (and assistant Dominic Kinnear) there was a substantial turnaround of the team’s fortunes (along with securing Landon Donovan) under which they won their first MLS Cup in 2001. Under Frank Yallop, the club would continue to have success reaching the quarterfinals in 2002 before winning the MLS Cup again in 2003. After this win, Yallop would step down, and Dominic Kinnear would earn a promotion. After the 2005 season, the club’s owners (AEG) announced that the club was moving to Houston; although the MLS refused to allow the branding and record to follow. Following the relocation of what would become the Houston Dynamo and a two-year hiatus, the club would return as a “new” expansion club.
In 2008 after the restart of the club they were officially granted the team’s brand and prior statistics, viewed as a continuation of the previous franchise. The club would have mixed success over the next few years; reaching the semifinals (after a 6th-place finish in their division) and the quarterfinals (after finishing first in their division). The lows were a stretch of four straight years (2013-2016) where they failed to qualify for the playoffs. However, the low point for the club was brightened substantially by the opening of the team’s new, soccer-specific stadium, Avaya Stadium, in 2015.
- Winners (2): 2001, 2003
- Winners (2): 2005, 2012
- Runners up (2): 2002, 2003