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. 

Cristian Espinoza scores first MLS goal in Quakes' loss to Red Bulls

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USATSI

Cristian Espinoza scores first MLS goal in Quakes' loss to Red Bulls

BOX SCORE

HARRISON, N.J. -- Alex Muyl scored a pair of second-half goals on Saturday and the New York Red Bulls rallied after an early deficit for a 4-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes.

Muyl tied it for the Red Bulls (1-0-1) on a close-range shot in the 51st minute and made it 2-1 with a volley off a defensive deflection in the 71st minute.

Bradley Wright-Phillips added a third goal for New York in the 85th minute and Daniel Royer capped the scoring in the 89th.

Cristian Espinoza opened the scoring in the fifth minute for San Jose (0-3-0) with his first MLS goal.

Matias Almeyda, who joined San Jose in the offseason after leading C.D. Guadalajara to a CONCACAF Champions League title in 2018, is still looking for his first point as coach of the Earthquakes.

Earthquakes fall to Minnesota United, stay winless under Matias Almeyda

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USATSI

Earthquakes fall to Minnesota United, stay winless under Matias Almeyda

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE -- Darwin Quintero had a goal and an assist on Saturday night and Minnesota United beat the San Jose Earthquakes 3-0 to open the season with back-to-back wins.

Quintero opened the scoring for Minnesota United (2-0-0) with a penalty in the 49th minute. Marco Lopez was called for a hand ball in the penalty area after video review.

Miguel Ibarra made it 2-0 in the 52nd minute. Quintero started the counterattack from behind midfield and fed it to Ibarra who set up his left-footed finish with a cutback.

San Jose's Harold Cummings scored an own goal in the 75th minute as Jan Gregus' corner deflected off his shoulder into the net.

It was Minnesota United's first ever win against the Quakes (0-2-0). San Jose won all four of the previous matches in the series.