San Jose, Calif. - Former San Jose State University standout Ismael Ibarra has earned a chance to train and play with the hometown San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer in recent days.
Ibarra has made two appearances for the Earthquakes as a guest player while the San Jose franchise has been on a rare three-week break from MLS action since August 29. He first played against the local El Sueño de tu Vida All-Stars at San Jose's PAL Stadium on Friday, September 4. In front of 2,200 fans, Ibarra entered the match in the 57th minute for Shea Salinas, and provided two goals in a 6-0 Earthquake victory. Mere moments after coming on, he latched onto a deep pass from former UC Davis star Quincy Amarikwa and chipped the opposing goalkeeper for a commanding 5-0 advantage. Twenty minutes later, Ibarra capped the scoring by tapping in a pass from Antonio Ribeiro, who also had a pair of strikes in the contest. Please click here for the full match recap.
On Tuesday, September 8, Ibarra suited up against Club Deportivo Aguila of El Salvador. He entered the match in the 83rd minute for Michael Zaher. The game, played at the Earthquakes' home venue of Santa Clara's Buck Shaw Stadium, ended in a scoreless draw. Andrew Weber, a four-year starter from 2001-04 at San Jose State's Mountain Pacific Sports Federation foe, University of New Mexico, earned the shutout in goal. Another former Lobo, Mike Graczyk (2003-07), is also currently an Earthquake back-up in goal behind starter Joe Cannon.
Ibarra scored on an unassisted 30-yard blast into the upper corner behind Graczyk to open the scoring in a match the Spartans ultimately lost, 5-1, to the then-22nd-ranked Lobos in Albuquerque, N.M., on November 11, 2007. On October 16, 2005, also in Albuquerque, Ibarra assisted on goals against Graczyk to both knot the match in the 59th minute, and win it in overtime after 97:41, in arguably one of the greatest upsets in Spartan history, a 3-2 triumph in front of 3,023 spectators over the then-second-ranked and eventual national runner-up Lobos.
Ibarra starred as a Spartan forward in 2005 and 2007, around a year off from competition in 2006. The native of Salinas, Calif., and 2003 graduate of Salinas' Everett Alvarez High School, was the 2005 MPSF Co-Newcomer of the Year and a second-team All-MPSF pick. He then went on to earn first-team National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/adidas Far West All-Region and first-team All-MPSF selection as a senior in 2007.
Previously at Hartnell College in Salinas, Ibarra was the 2004 NSCAA/adidas Junior College Division III Player of the Year, having produced 71 total points from 28 goals and 15 assists as a sophomore there. Ibarra was a two-time junior college All-American.
Coming out of San Jose State, Ibarra was chosen in the third round of the 2008 Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) College Draft by the California Cougars, but never played for them.
Recently, Ibarra spent some time in Argentina with former San Jose State and Hartnell College teammate Diego Soto (2005-06), trying out for several professional teams in that country. Upon returning, Ibarra, Soto and another former Spartan, Julio Gonzalez (2006-07), played together for a team that made it to the championship game of the adult division of the Verizon Wireless Copa Alianza tournament, also played at PAL Stadium.
Current second-year San Jose State volunteer assistant coach Dan Benton, the Spartans' goalkeeper from 2001-04, was previously a signed member of the Earthquakes during the 2008 season, serving as Cannon's back-up and appearing in three reserve division matches. He started for San Jose State opposite Weber and his Lobos, twice in 2004.