I'm a San Jose Earthquakes season pass holder and yesterday we got an exclusive look at the 2018 squad. The scrimmage kicked off a little after 12 p.m. and lasted for approximately two hours. I had the opportunity to see the new Swedish player. In Decemeber, the San Jose Earthquakes announced the signing of Swedish midfielder/forward Magnus Eriksson as a Designated Player. Eriksson joined the Quakes after co-leading the top-flight Swedish Allsvenskan with 14 goals in 2017 and finishing as a finalist for the league’s Most Valuable Player and Midfielder of the Year awards. He looked relaxed and mingling well with the rest of the squad.

Also last year, in November, the San Jose Earthquakes hired Mikael Stahre (Michael STAR-eh) as head coach. Stahre brings 11 years of head coaching experience in top European leagues to San Jose. Chris Leitch and Alex Covelo, who spent the final four months of the 2017 season as head coach and assistant coach, respectively, will return to their roles as technical director and director of methodology.

Stahre, 42, comes to San Jose after one year as the head coach of BK Hacken in the Swedish top-flight Allsvenskan. During his lone season with the club, Stahre led the team to a 14-6-10 record, a +14 goal-differential, the third-fewest goals allowed in the league (28) and a fourth-place finish. Stahre elevated Hacken from 10th place in 2016 with an 11-12-7 record to a top-four finish for the first time since 2012.

Stahre, from Stockholm, Sweden, began his coaching career in 2007 with FC Vasby United of the Swedish third-tier. Under his guidance, FC Vasby finished in second place with a 15-5-6 record and the third-best offense in the league, earning promotion to the second-tier Superettan. He remained with the club for one more year, finishing mid-table despite possessing the youngest team in the league, before moving to AIK in 2009.

Inheriting a team that had finished in fifth place the year before, Stahre led AIK to a league championship in his first season. The club went 18-5-7 with a league-low 20 goals allowed in 30 games, marking their first Swedish title since 1998. That same year, AIK won the Swedish Cup, comparable to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, with a perfect 5-0 record in single-elimination play.

After winning the double, Stahre had a stint with Panionios in Greece before moving back to Sweden to take charge of IFK Goteborg ahead of the 2012 Allsvenskan season. Stahre again quickly led his side to silverware, with IFK winning the 2012-13 Swedish Cup. In 2013, IFK rose from a mid-table club to third place (16-8-6), ranking among the league-leaders in goals for (49, t-4th) and goals against (31, 3rd). IFK made another jump the following year, finishing second with a 15-4-11 record and a +24 goal-differential. He also gave increased opportunity to youth players such as 18-year-old forward Gustav Engvall and 20-year-old fullback Ludwig Augustinsson. The duo finished No. 1 and No. 2 in Newcomer of the Year voting and have both gone on to represent the Swedish National Team, who are bound for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

After his three successful seasons with IFK, Stahre’s next challenge was to take over Dalian Aerbin (Yifang), who had just been relegated from the Chinese Super League to League One. In his first season in China in 2015, Stahre led Dalian Aerbin to a third-place finish with a 17-6-7 record and the league’s second-best goal-differential (+24), narrowly missing out on promotion. He remained with the team for half of the 2016 season, exiting after a 10-6-2 start to the campaign, and returning to Sweden to take over Hacken in January of 2017.

In addition to his many years of coaching First Team football, Stahre also has experience at the youth level. He served as head coach of the Hammarby U-19s from 1994-97 and the AIK U-19s from 1998-2005, leading AIK to the junior national championship in 2004.

Other San Jose Earthquakes activities before the start of the season:

Feb 10th: Pre-Season Match: Saturday, February 10 against Reno 1868 FC

In what will be the only home pre-season match to the public, catch the Quakes in action on Saturday, February 10 at 2pm, against Reno 1868.

Feb 11th: Unveil Jersey

The San Jose Earthquakes will unveil their new jersey and mini-pitch at Hornet Field in Alameda, Calif. on Sunday, Feb. 11, presented by Sutter Health, during a day filled with activities for fans of all ages. The event will start at 10 a.m. and will conclude at 3 p.m., with the exciting unveil taking place between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. Quakes players will be at the event to help unveil the jersey, sign autographs and take photos with fans. Earthquakes Season Pass Holders can take advantage of a 20% discount on team merchandise.

June 30th Season Schedule

The Earthquakes will open the season on Saturday, March 3 at 7:15 p.m., presented by Avaya, with a rematch of the emotional 2017 Decision Day game against Minnesota United FC, in which the Quakes secured their spot in the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs with a stoppage-time goal.

The Quakes will play three of their first five games at Avaya Stadium, followed by a heavy road stretch, as six of their next eight contests will be played in foreign territory. San Jose will compete in seven contests in front of the San Jose faithful during Weeks 20-29 before closing out the season with two home games and three road matches.

San Jose will continue the tradition of playing the California Clasico at Stanford Stadium when the team hosts the LA Galaxy on Saturday, June 30 at 6:45 p.m., presented by Sutter Health (UniMas). The last six have drawn sold-out crowds of more than 50,000 and the summer classic will represent the Quakes’ Military Appreciation Night, featuring the largest fireworks display in the Bay Area postgame.