San Jose Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop took 10 minutes to talk with us about practice, players and, of all things, Nelly Furtado, Shaun White and the Winter Olympics. Yallop and the Quakes are on the practice pitch preparing for a March 27 home opener against defending MLS Cup Champion Real Salt Lake.
San Jose Earthquakes: Talk to us about the pre-season so far.
What positives and negatives have you seen from training?
Frank Yallop: The positives are we have seen a lot of hard work and I think the attitude this season has been great. I've pushed them and they've responded very well. The negatives, there's not been many days off. We've had three weeks of training and probably had maybe two days off, but they're pushing themselves and I'm happy about that
SJQ: The Quakes had a couple intra-squad scrimmages last week.
How did you feel about the sessions?
FY: We played a 75-minute game and an 80-minute game last week and I think it went very well. We looked fit, sharp. The guys look really rearing to go.
SJQ: What did you say to Ryan Johnson when he got back into
camp after scoring on Argentina?
FY: I hadn't seen the goal so he said look on YouTube. We were away and so I couldn't see it on Fox Soccer Channel. I've seen it since and it was a great header. Ryan's looking sharp since he's got back, looking fit and ready to go.
SJQ: Let's switch tracks a bit here and talk about the
Olympics. You're an English-born Canadian so you must have some pride
watching the Games in Vancouver. Did you catch the opening ceremony?
FY: I thought it was a terrific opening ceremony. My parents, my sister and my brother live there and we're all obviously just proud to be Canadian. It's a proud moment. Mike Gruber worked really hard to get the games and I think they were determined to make sure it was great. I think the Opening Ceremonies were terrific. Canada's gotta win more golds, but they're doing well for the country and that's good.
SJQ: It was nice of you to let Wayne Gretzky light the torch at the Opening Ceremonies. What do you think about "The Great One"?
FY: (Grins) Yeah, I was a bit gutted I didn't get the call to carry the torch at all. Wayne, to me, is probably the best Canadian sportsman ever.
SJQ: Describe Nelly Furtado in five words or less.
SJQ: I agree. Let's see about getting her a Quakes jersey. On that note, who tops your list of Canadian singers: Celine Dion or Nelly Furtado?
FY: Shania Twain.
SJQ: Option C, good choice. Can't go wrong with Shania.
FY: No, you certainly can't.
SJQ: Have you kept up with the Olympic coverage much? What are
some of the highlights for you?
FY: Yeah, quite a bit. When the hockey gets goin' I get excited. The Winter Games are just great. You cannot forget about it. Watching Shaun White in the half pipe was just unbelievable, one of the most incredible things I've ever seen.
SJQ: Think you could survive in the half pipe?
FY: (Laughs) No chance. I skied last year for the first time in 30 years. I went with my kids and my wife to Truckee, Calif. It was beautiful, but I can't ski well at all.
SJQ: Please tell me you've tried curling before. England
invented the game and it's popular in Canada.
FY: Never tried it. I've played shuffleboard before, but never on ice.
SJQ: Bummer. Might need to put it on the to-do list. They have lessons at Sharks Ice.
SJQ: Let's travel back in time here and imagine a world where
you were a winter sport athlete. What event would you get into?
FY: Probably ice hockey.
SJQ: What position?
FY: I'm more of a steady defenseman. That's how I played in soccer so I would probably be just a steady, reliable defensemen.
SJQ: Which of your players do you think would make the best hockey player?
FY: Quincy (Amarikwa). I think he's like a Jarome Iginla from Calgary. Tough, strong, he'd be good.
SJQ: The MLS has obviously recognized Vancouver as a place of
interest by awarding them a franchise in 2011. What can you say about
the passion for sports and soccer in Canada?
FY: I think it's shown in Toronto that Canadians love soccer. I think that Vancouver is going to be a great site. They've probably looked at Seattle and said this is exactly how we want it to be. I think that the MLS needs to keep a presence in Canada.
SJQ: Thanks for your time, Frank.