SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) --Two World Cup players will be back with the San Jose Earthquakes this week after the Honduras and U.S. teams failed to survive the knockout round -- and they're helping boost ticket sales and fan support.
There is no question that soccer fans really appreciate and admire World Cup players and one of them, Victor Bernardez, has already returned from Brazil and was able to take the field against Chivas at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara Wednesday. The other player who went to the World Cup, known as "Wondo," will return home Thursday. His next home game won't be until July 11.
The Earthquakes couldn't be happier about having two World Cup players on its own roster. Defender Victor Bernardez, played on the Honduras national team and forward Chris Wondolowski, better known as "Wondo," played on Team USA.
Ticket sales are rising even with the team currently ranked eighth in the nine-team Western Conference. Fatima Sousa bought seven tickets to an August game. "I'm going to my first soccer game ever, yes, professional game," she said. "Yes, I'm very excited."
World Cup fever is also having a positive impact on season ticket sales for the Quakes' new stadium, opening in March. The team has 5,000 season ticket holders now, but has already sold 7,000 for next season.
"Young adults and people in that age range kind of grew up with soccer more in their culture than people that are a little bit older. So there's a big growth in that area. That's good for us. We have a lot of young fans who will continue to know the league, know the sport, and grow into it," said Jed Mettee.
With the U.S. no longer in World Cup contention, fans can focus again on their home teams. Team apparel sales benefitted this year from a new logo and a red jersey, but at stores like Soccer Pro in San Jose, there is hope that returning players Bernardez and Wondo will re-ignite support for the Quakes.
"They're quality players, probably our best players that we have, in terms of going forward. So yeah, they'd be a big help getting back," said Soccer Pro sales representative Jake Leedeman
It doesn't hurt either that Danville native Wondo has gotten plenty of media coverage including a profile in Rolling Stone. He and the rest of the USA team remain heroes for advancing as far as they did.
"It's a team sport, so the team played together and you can't blame any one person for either executing or not executing. Everyone did to the best of their ability," fan Mark Silver said.