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The Best of Both Worlds - 2014 FBM Beer-view: San Jose Earthquakes

With Major League Soccer and the rest of American soccer kicking off in just over a week we've curated an impressive list of players, personalities, broadcasters, front office folk, and fans to have them tell us (and you) about their upcoming 2014 season.

And, of course, pair their hopes and dreams for this season with a tasty local brew.

That's not just a preview... it's a "beer-view".

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By Robert Jonas / Centerline Soccer 

Team: San Jose Earthquakes

Coach: Mark Watson

Is he the right man for the job?

Watson took the reigns of the club last June after the sudden departure of long-time head coach Frank Yallop. Not quite halfway through their season, the Earthquakes were struggling to gain any momentum, but Watson injected a renewed sense of focus, especially on defense, and San Jose finished the season on a 13-5-5 run, missing the MLS Cup playoffs only because of a tiebreaker.

Watson didn’t do anything revolutionary with the team — it was only a year ago that it won the Supporters’ Shield — but his back-to-basics approach made the Quakes a contender, and a team other Western Conference foes were glad didn’t make the postseason. Expect much the same from Watson and the team in 2014, as they play a brand of soccer not so much beautiful as effective.

Player(s) to watch?

The obvious player to watch will be Chris Wondolowski. Can the 2012 MLS MVP recapture the form that allowed him to tie the league record for most goals scored in a season? Last year Wondo played more than half the season with a broken foot, and his production understandably dropped. This year, fresh off a month training with the U.S. men’s national team and free from injury, the Quakes’ captain should be back among the mix in the 2014 MLS golden boot race.

The Earthquakes player that will likely garner the most “Who is that guy?” comments this season is newcomer Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi. The former captain of Ligue 1 side AC Ajaccio, the 28-year old midfielder has made a long desired move to MLS after playing his entire career with his hometown Corsican club. He’s not your typical over-the-hill European player, looking for a vacation in the states, but a hard-nosed central midfielder with excellent vision and a knack for sniffing out the ball. Pierazzi is not a playmaker in the classical sense, but he will be an important catalyst in the Quakes attack.

Predictions for 2014?

These Quakes are not falling for that temptress known as “possession.” Rather, the 2014 team will take the pragmatic path to results, being disciplined on defense and opportunistic on offense. The hard-nosed Steven Lenhart is healthy again and should complement Wondolowski well on the forward line as both seek out incoming passes flying in from the wings. The free-wheeling play of 2012, which required a ridiculous number of Goonies-inspired comebacks, has been replaced by a more methodical style of play. As such, the 2014 Earthquakes will win no points for style, but they will post points in the standings and qualify for the playoffs.

Local Beer Pairing:

An explosion in craft brewing in the Bay Area recently has proffered beer-lovers a tremendous variety of options when is comes to their drinks of choice. On the India pale ale front alone, such exciting new offerings as Palo Alto Brewing Company’s “Atlas,” Knee Deep Brewing’s “Hoptologist,” and Strike Brewing’s golden IPA make the mouth water. Veteran players on the scene, like Russian River’s “Pliny the Elder” and Bear Republic’s “Café Racer 15,” still deliver the goods and are sure to be among the offerings at the Quakes’ new stadium’s North America’s Largest Outdoor Bar next spring.

But the one beer that encapsulates the spirit of the Earthquakes like no other is Drake’s Brewing imperial IPA “Denogginizer.” Just as partakers of this hoppy double IPA do after polishing off a pint, opponents of the Earthquakes will have to check their heads after experiencing the team’s in-your-face physicality on the field. And while a little caramel sweetness rounds things off, like a cool Wondolowski finish in front of goal, the “Denogginizer” is all hopped-up muscle elsewhere as it gets the job done. Want to experience the beer equivalent of 90 minutes defending Lenhart in the box? Open and enjoy a “Denogginizer.”

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds

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