Quakes fire GM after nine years: 'Style of play got kind of boring'


Quakes fire GM after nine years: 'Style of play got kind of boring'

In a surprising in-season move, the San Jose Earthquakes have parted ways with general manager John Doyle after nine years at the position and contributions to the franchise that date back to 1996.

“We felt it was a time for a fresh approach on the tactical side,” said Earthquakes President Dave Kaval. “Our style of play got kind of boring. We want it to be more interesting for the fans. We don’t want to be a team that simply toes the red (playoff) line. We want to be more compelling to watch.”

The Quakes are fresh off a three-game stretch where they went 0-2-1 including two matches at Avaya Stadium that netted them just one goal and one point. San Jose currently sits at 7-11-8, three points behind the Portland Timbers for the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Earthquakes do have one game in hand on Portland, but Kaval said San Jose’s upper brass felt the time was right to send a statement to the entire organization.

“The performance just wasn’t where it needs to be,” Kaval said. “We still have a chance to make the playoffs and currently our play is not up to standard. This move sends a message to the technical side.”

[RELATED: Earthquakes part ways with GM John Doyle]

Dominic Kinnear will remain as the club’s head coach while Chris Leitch assumes the general manager position on an interim level.

Leitch is currently the Quakes’ technical director and the person credited with the development of San Jose’s academy program that now reaches all levels of soccer prior to MLS including the Premier Development and United Soccer Leagues. Kaval said Leitch is one of the candidates to assume the full-time role of general manager for the club – a position the Quakes hope to fill by the end of the calendar year.

“Chris has a great track record with youth development,” Kaval said. “He has a bright future in soccer. He brings a lot to the table. This is an opportunity for him to audition for the role.”

Doyle was named the general manager of the Earthquakes in 2007. He was part of the team that re-established the Quakes after the team's return from a two-year hiatus.

With Doyle as GM, the Quakes made the playoffs two times and captured the Supporters' Shield with the best regular season record in MLS in 2012. They have not returned to that level since.

Doyle’s roots with the franchise go back to 1996. Since then, he’s been a player, assistant coach and television color analyst for the club. In 2005, he was the inaugural member of the San Jose Earthquakes Hall of Fame.

But despite his long-rooted loyalties with the Quakes, the club’s recent failures with landing big-name, high-production Designated Players to help San Jose compete at the higher levels of Major League Soccer had drawn criticism. Kaval said it was one of the reasons the club decided to relieve Doyle of his duties.

“It’s a piece of the puzzle,” Kaval said. “We felt like we needed to lay the ground work for future success. And that needs to start now.

“It shows fans that there is going to be accountability. That we won’t be content with simply trifling with the red line.”

While there are no immediate candidates outside of Leitch for the general manager position, Kaval said ownership “owes it to the fans to cast a wide net – especially as MLS continues to evolve.

“This is not just a short term decision,” Kaval said.

In a statement released by the Quakes, Doyle said “I want to thank the Earthquakes ownership group and Dave Kaval for their support during my time at the Quakes.

“I also want to thank the players, the coaches and front office staff for all their hard work every day to make this organization better. I also want to recognize the great fans in San Jose and around the Bay Area that have always been loyal to this club. I wish the team and the organization the best of luck the rest of this year and into the future. I want to see this club succeed more than anyone."

The Earthquakes have eight more games left in the 2016 season – four at Avaya Stadium and four on the road. The eight games include seven against western conference opponents of which only Seattle sits below San Jose in the standings – by just one point.

Quakes choose young FIU defender with their first pick in 2018 MLS SuperDraft

Quakes choose young FIU defender with their first pick in 2018 MLS SuperDraft

The San Jose Earthquakes are hoping they've caught lighting in a bottle twice. 

Last season, Nick Lima emerged as one of the game's best young defenders. And on Day 1 of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, San Jose went to the fullback well with the selection of Paul Marie from Florida International University with the 12th pick in the first round. 

"Paul has the profile we were looking for from the very beginning heading into the combine and the draft," said Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli via press release. "We were looking for a fullback. We see in him an offensive-minded outside back that has technical qualities and the ability to read the game."

Experts pegged Marie, 22, as a late-first, early-second-round selection. But a pair of solid days during the MLS Combine boosted the Frenchman's stock -- especially on San Jose's board. According to Fioranelli, Marie was No. 4 on their draft board -- having him there at No. 12 must have felt like a steal for Fioranelli and staff. 

"We especially liked that he has character and in the interview that we had with him, he convinced us," Fioranelli said. "The entire coaching staff are really excited about having him part of the club."

San Jose not only lucked out that their fourth-best footballer was there at 12, but with American parents, he does not take up an international slot for San Jose -- the team is still three players over their allotment.

In an interview after his selection with Jason Davis of Sirius XM radio, Marie told San Jose fans what they can expect from the defender. 

"They can expect Paul Marie to give it all for San Jose," he said. 

The Quakes were in need of defensive depth going in to Day 1 of the SuperDraft. In Marie, they have a fullback who can stretch the pitch from the right side and be a backup to Lima. 

Did Quakes pull off 'steal' of MLS SuperDraft in Danny Musovski?

Did Quakes pull off 'steal' of MLS SuperDraft in Danny Musovski?

Not too long ago, former UNLV standout Danny Musovski was the darling of the mock draft. 

And rightfully so -- with 47 career goals in 88 appearances with the Runnin' Rebels, Musovski possesses a knack and nose for the goal that no MLS team can have enough of and thus an early selection in the MLS SuperDraft was expected. 

So when you examine the San Jose Earthquakes' first day of the 2018 SuperDraft, their selection of Musovski can be viewed one of two ways: it's either the steal/ best value of Day 1 at No. 30 or you're skeptical of why the 22-year-old who many experts had going in the top 10 fell all the way down the Quakes in the second round. 

Judging by the way those who know Musovski talk about him, it sounds like Earthquakes fans can lean toward the former. 

"Danny is a striker that we actually saw as one of the biggest prospects considering that over four years he had scored around 50 goals," said San Jose general manager Jesse Fioranelli via press release. "He is a player that we already knew because he was inside of our ecosystem. We are excited to have him at the club."

Fioranelli is talking about Musovski's time with San Jose Premier Developement League affiliate, Burlingame Dragons FC, in 2016 where the forward made a huge impact on a squad that made the PDL postseason fresh off his 12-goal year with UNLV. 

"Quakes got a steal by drafting Danny at No. 30," said his former Dragons FC head coach Eric Bucchere -- who spent last season as an assistant with San Jose affiliate Reno 1868 and founded Path2Pro Soccer thereafter. 

"He's an MLS-ready player with pace, a good soccer brain and knack for scoring goals," Bucchere said, adding that yes, perhaps Musovski's work during the combine wasn't steller, but those two days shouldn't overshadow the striker's upside. "Sometimes it's obvious why a player is good at scoring goals and sometimes you have to watch a player during the course of an entire season to really appreciate what makes him so good." 

There are some experts who point to Chris Wondolowski as a comporable skillset and physical build to Musovski -- a player who no-doubt can find the back of the net but won't blow you away with his athleticism. 

"The last point is that Danny showed more enthusiasm than any other player to join the organization, which was a determining factor for him to join us," Fioranelli said. 

Musovski was a four-year starter and two-time All-America selection for UNLV and the first Rebel to be selected in the Super Draft since Bradley Kamdem in 2016. During his senior season in 2017, he scored 15 goals (good for fourth in the nation) and added six assists in 16 appearances, earning Third Team All-America, First Team All-West Region, First Team All-Western Athletic Conference and Western Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors.

Time, and training camp, will tell if Musovski will make an immediate impact with the main club. But he'll definitely have a spot with Reno 1868, the Quakes United Soccer League affiliate known for scoring goals in (record-setting) bunches.