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SAN JOSE – Gary Quan and his wife Emily made their way to Earthquakes Stadium on Saturday, as they normally do for the Quakes’ home games.
But this time, they never got out of the car, even after arriving.
Their blue Prius was one of some 50 vehicles parked just outside the playground as the earthquakes played out the first professional sporting event in Santa Clara County since March. With the crowd ban still in effect, the Quakes developed a drive-through viewing night that allowed season ticket holders to watch the game on the stadium’s giant video panel.
Quan and the others paid $ 50 to be part of the unique cheer section and spoke by honking their horns and turning their headlights at various points throughout the game.
Their efforts have not gone unnoticed by the players.
âIt’s different, but it was great to hear the horns honking, especially before the game, so you could create any kind of atmosphere,â said Quakes captain Chris Wondolowski.
Wondolowski scored the Quakes’ goal in a 1-1 draw against the Colorado Rapids, scoring from a penalty in the 59th minute. It was his third goal of the season and the 162nd league record of his career. But the Rapids equalized in the 81st minute when Kei Kamara directed a corner. It was his 129th goal, which ranks fifth on the MLS all-time roster.
The Earthquakes (2-2-3) were originally scheduled to resume their home schedule on August 26, but that contest was one of five MLS games postponed that night when players left to protest racism .
“Obviously it’s a weird feeling when you play in an empty stadium,” center-back Florian Jungwirth said. âHowever, it was really good to come home tonight. I think last Wednesday we were ready to go, but
today was a special feeling for everyone. It’s a really strange and difficult time, so you’re really happy for the little things in life. It’s definitely something that gave me a lot of joy.
The joy extended beyond the pitch, beyond the players. One fan, Santa Clara resident Robert Mitchell, called the game a “dream field situation” as it essentially went to the middle of a field to watch professional athletes.
âI am amazed at how much I enjoy this weird cinema drive-thru experience,â Mitchell said. âIt was weird to see the stands empty but still have the feeling of community with everyone in their vehicles, even though we are separated by plastic and rubber and a few feet of grass – or Astroturf, I guess. ”
Mitchell and his wife Niccole brought extra layers of clothing and water bottles and face masks. But he said next time he would bring hearing protection as well.
âIt feels like everyone is driving in gasoline vuvuzelas,â Mitchell said. “It makes me wonder if everyone on Coleman Avenue (next to the stadium) swerves to avoid traffic that isn’t there.”
It will inevitably be stronger next time. The Quakes play at 8 p.m. on September 13 against their rival, the Los Angeles Galaxy.