http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/3541362.html Houston wins big with new MLS team By GLENN DAVIS Excerpts: When the announcement that the San Jose Earthquakes were moving to Houston was made at City Hall last week, there was a lot of excitement around our city. With MLS coming to Houston and the 2006 World Cup in Germany just around the corner, soccer fans have a lot to be thrilled about. Yet the euphoria is countered with the sadness of the San Jose Earthquakes fans who have lost their two-time MLS champions. First the Californians lost their star, Landon Donovan, to the L.A. Galaxy last year, and now their franchise is gone. Fans have directed anger at everyone from MLS and the Anschutz Entertainment Group to city officials in San Jose. Houstonians have sympathy for San Jose fans; losing a franchise is something the city knows about. There was passion about the Houston Oilers before the city went through an NFL drought. Houston without the NFL is like San Jose without professional soccer. Who would have ever thought of that? So imagine the surprise out of San Jose last Friday when the city, after losing the Earthquakes, put together an $80 million package for another MLS team. The money is earmarked for construction, landand operating subsidies. It's mind-blowing. Where was this attention from San Jose city officials when the club was acquired a few years ago by AEG, supposedly a short-term owner? Where were the San Jose ownership groups? Maybe they were too busy trying to attract baseball and were blind to the fact that they already had a team and players that were woven into the fabric of the community. Houston is the winner, because the city acquired a franchise without having identified any local ownership or having to use public money. And what a team we got. For my money last season, the Earthquakes were the most entertaining team in the league. Dominic Kinnear was named coach of the year. Pat Onstad was named goalkeeper of the year, and Dwayne DeRosario played brilliantly behind two strikers and should have been the league MVP. Midfielder Ricardo Clarke and striker Brian Ching have been called to the U.S. team's camp and are stars on the rise. The Earthquakes had the best regular-season record and became the first team in MLS history to go undefeated at home. Kinnear is one of few coaches in MLS who understands the marriage between winning and entertainment, and he knows its importance to promoting MLS, which just completed its tenth season. His candor is refreshing. He does not speak behind a veil of secrecy, and in the end, he knows the focus is on his players. Kinnear has a strong professional background as a player, having appeared for the U.S. team and spent time at Necaxa in Mexico. Sure it's unsettling for players to move from a city that has provided so many memories. It was an awkward moment for Kinnear, Onstad and Wade Barrett at a news conference last Friday, but once they get back on the practice fields things will begin to look bright again. A fan recently suggested his choice for the name of the franchise. He picked the Houston Stealers, referring to the team being taken from San Jose. Houston didn't steal a franchise; the city and its soccer fans earned one. Sadly for San Jose fans, their city officials let them down. Efforts there came too late.