Soccer-San Jose Earthquakes returning to MLS

SAN JOSE, July 18 (Reuters) - San Jose Earthquakes will return to the U.S.’s Major League Soccer from next season after a two-year absence, the league said on Wednesday.

MLS commissioner Don Garber said the Earthquakes would become the 14th team in the competition, joining the Western Conference.

The addition restores an even number of teams to the league which last week added England midfielder David Beckham to its ranks as an LA Galaxy player.

The new San Jose franchise is owned by a group led by Lew Wolff and John Fisher, the main owners of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, and is a separate commercial entity to the team which left the MLS in 2005.

The previous Earthquakes franchise moved to Texas and became the Houston Dynamo, who are participating in their second MLS campaign.

“While we are thrilled to bring Earthquakes soccer back to the Bay Area, we want to make one thing very clear: this is the dawn of a new era for professional soccer in San Jose,” said Wolff in a statement.

“We join the MLS at a very exciting juncture in the league’s and the sport’s history in the United States.

“With the development of new soccer-only stadiums, expanded national television exposure and increased fan and corporate sponsor support, coupled with this area’s cultural diversity and long-standing interest in soccer, we expect a very bright future for this team,” he said.

San Jose will play at temporary venues for the next two seasons pending the creation of a planned purpose-built soccer stadium, the statement said.

The previous Earthquakes outfit won the MLS Cup in 2001 and 2003 and a team bearing that name also featured in the now defunct North American Soccer League.