Earthquakes

Why Quakes' hiring of Stahre is surprising, but not shocking at the same time

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Michael Erichsen/Bildbyran

Why Quakes' hiring of Stahre is surprising, but not shocking at the same time

When the San Jose Earthquakes named Chris Leitch their head coach around the halfway point of last season, the biggest question wasn’t why, it was why not — as in, why not assign him the interim tag most people hired during the middle of a year get?

At the time, general manager Jesse Fioranelli's sans-interim approach was the GM saying that not only was the label not necessary and that Leitch was the in-house solution the Quakes needed to end a playoff drought going on five seasons but also that he was the right person to guide the team into a brighter future. 

And so that vote of confidence, coupled with Leitch guiding the Earthquakes to their first playoff appearance since 2012, plus the lack of an official announcement by the team that a coaching search was underway makes Friday’s hiring of Mikael Stahre a bit eye-popping and provides no clear-cut answer to what happened behind closed doors when the Quakes came back from Vancouver following a brutal exit from the postseason. 

Rumors began swirling midway through the week that Fioranelli had Stahre, the front man over at Sweden’s BK Hacken, in his sights. And there are those people who would argue the writing was on the wall for Leitch given the team’s inconsistent play — especially on the road. But were it not for some ambiguous, less-than-reassuring endorsements of Leitch following the 5-0 playoff loss that left the door open for just about anything, there are others who would say that Friday’s hiring of Stahre was completely out of left field. 

If anything, it appears Fioranelli, who Quakes fans knew very little about when he was hired as the GM back in January, is continuing a precedent that he’ll pull any trigger at any time. 

Whether Fioranelli’s decision to hire the Swedish head coach is the right thing to do is yet to be seen, obviously. Stahre built his name in Sweden, rising from the junior ranks to the front of a first team that last year jumped six spots in the standings. It’s one of many coaching statistics San Jose lists to try and assure fans they’re getting a true soccer mind for the job in Stahre. 

Fioranelli and team President Tom Fox are saying all the right things to welcome Stahre into the fold, mentioning his ability to relate to players — who reportedly gave Stahre glowing endorsements — as a key reason why he was ultimately chosen to lead the Quakes (read between the lines what you will there given the rumored-sour and still-unofficial departures of former Quakes mainstays Simon Dawkins, Cordell Cato and David Bingham once Leitch took over). 

Moreover, Fioranelli reiterated some of the points in the team’s press release during a conference call Friday afternoon. He mentioned that Leitch would stay on as the team’s technical director — the role he had before becoming the head coach and that the club’s decision to relieve him of the head coaching job had nothing to do with where the club was coming from (read: playoffs) but more so where they wanted to go moving forward (read: as of right now, unclear). Fioranelli said the search was extensive and that Stahre was one of three finalists for the job — including one from South America. He again pointed out that Stahre’s values align with those of the club and he’s a man his former players vouch for.

So, at least at first glance, San Jose is doing its best to make pretty and tie a bow around what was at-a-minimum an awkward firing of Dominic Kinnear and hiring of a man in Leitch who did just enough to justify the change but not enough to warrant extending Fioranelli’s experiment any longer. 

Only time will tell exactly what Fioranelli is creating over at Avaya Stadium. 

Jahmir Hyka's late goal earns Quakes a 2-2 draw with Dynamo

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USATSI

Jahmir Hyka's late goal earns Quakes a 2-2 draw with Dynamo

SAN JOSE -- Jahmir Hyka scored in the closing minutes to help the San Jose Earthquakes to a 2-2 draw with the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night.

Hyka, in his first MLS action of the season, came on in the 67th minute and first-timed a feed from Quincy Amarikwa to make it 2-2 in the 85th. Florian Jungwirth's cross from the right flank floated through the box to Amarikwa, who tapped it to Hyka for the finish - which deflected off defender Adolfo Machado.

Marcus Eriksson scored his second goal in two games to give San Jose (1-2-2) a 1-0 lead in the 26th, one-timing Jackson Yueill's pass into the bottom-left corner of the net from the top of the box.

Tomas Martinez scored in the opening minutes of the second half and Mauro Manotas tapped in a sliding finish of Alberth Elis' cross from point-blank range to give Houston a 2-1 lead in the 63rd minute.

The Dynamo (1-2-2) have just one win in their last 20 MLS road games.

Earthquakes to host EPL powerhouse Manchester United in July

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AP

Earthquakes to host EPL powerhouse Manchester United in July

The San Jose Earthquakes will get a stiff test this summer when they host English Premier League power Manchester United.

The match will be played on July 22nd at Levi's Stadium.

“Having an opportunity to face a renowned club such as Manchester United is both a great source of entertainment for our fans and an exciting challenge for our team,” said Earthquakes President Tom Fox said in a press release issued by the team.

It will be the second-ever meeting between the two teams. Back in 2015, Manchester United defeated the Earthquakes 3-1 at Avaya Stadium as part of the International Champions Cup.

The upcoming match will be part of Manchester United's tour through the US. In addition to the match at Levi's, the EPL stallworth will play in Phoenix on July 19.