Dominic Kinnear returns to lead Earthquakes

After weeks of speculation, the San Jose Earthquakes officially announced Dominic Kinnear will return as the club’s head coach following the conclusion of the 2014 season.

Mark Watson is out effective immediately with two games remaining on the MLS schedule, as is assistant coach Nick Dasovic. Assistant Ian Russell will remain as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

This will be Kinnear’s second stint in San Jose after serving as head coach from 2004 to 2005 and previously an assistant in 2001 to 2003.

Kinnear relocated with the team to Houston for the 2006 season, and remained the head coach of the Dynamo until now. Kinnear won back-to-back MLS cups in his first two seasons with Houston, also finishing as runners up in 2011 and 2012.

With two weeks still remaining in the 2014 MLS season, the timing of the announcement is curious but necessary, according the San Jose Earthquakes president Dave Kaval:

“The only way we were able to move forward was by basically doing it within the season because we had a prescribed amount of time to kind of work through an arrangement with Dominic. It wasn’t our ideal situation, it’s not something we wanted. We felt it made more sense at the end of the season, but it really was the only way we could acquire who we see as the best possible coach for the San Jose Earthquakes.”

The Earthquakes’ hand may have been forced when the Houston Chronicle reported yesterday that the deal had already been done, leaving the front office with little choice but to make the announcement public as soon as possible.

The Dynamo themselves are in the market for a new coach and technical director, and might also be looking at making their moves as soon as possible.

Mark Watson was on the sideline for Tuesday night’s 2-1 friendly win over CDS Vida at Buck Shaw, but was barred from talking to the media following the match in what reporters described as an unprecedented move.

Earthquakes General Manager John Doyle told reporters during a conference call this morning that the quality of the club’s performances in 2014, notably those at home, prompted San Jose to begin a coaching search with Kinnear as the first choice.

Under Watson in 2014, San Jose went 6-15-11 in MLS play, 5-9-2 at home, and is currently mired in a 13-game winless streak in competitive matches.

Doyle would not elaborate on what assets were given in return to Houston saying:

“That’s confidential, but we did have to spend some assets to acquire Dominic.”

Doyle also said that Kinnear will have the final say on player decisions, an interesting remark considering the rumors that former coach Frank Yallop left amid personnel disagreements with the front office.

Like Watson, Kinnear has had a disappointing final season in Houston, with the Dynamo (11-15-6) officially missing the playoffs for only the second time in franchise history.

Kinnear was bittersweetness about leaving Houston, saying the Dynamo are still one of his two “favorite” teams, but said that the move is beneficial for both clubs:

“I think over the years San Jose’s had their ups and downs, and I want that team to win. We’ll be a hard working, honest team that’s out their to entertain the fans and win as many games as possible. I know it’s easy to talk about, but it’s something I’m going to try my best to do and reward the faith of the ownership that Dave and John have showed in me.”