SAN JOSE, Calif. — In a bold move, one that has energized a fanbase that has seen the team suffer through its worst season ever, the San Jose Earthquakes today named Matias Almeyda their new head coach for the 2019 season.
“Our soccer operations team conducted a broad search across the U.S., looking at different coaches abroad in Europe and in Latin America,” general manager Jesse Fioranelli said at an introductory press conference at Avaya Stadium. “Today, I think we have found the right coach, so I’m really glad to have Matias Almeyda join us.”
Almeyda, 44, previously coached C.D. Guadalajara in Liga MX, where he lead the club to the 2018 Concacaf Champions League title. In three years at Chivas, as the club is more commonly known, Almeyda’s team captured the Liga MX 2017 Clausura championship, two Copa MX titles, and the 2016 Supercopa MX trophy.
“Matias came here because he welcomes the challenge of helping our organization open a new chapter after a grueling season,” Fioranelli said. “He had several other opportunities available to him from clubs and national teams around the world but made it very clear the Earthquakes were the one he wanted to lead.”
No stranger to working with struggling teams, the Argentinian previously coached in his home country, guiding first storied club River Plate then Club Atlético Banfield from the second division to Argentina’s top tier. Almeyda will have a big task on his hands to turn around the Quakes and make them a playoff contender.
“What we saw in Matias was a coach that brought success by creating a culture we strive to emulate,” Fioranelli said. “He has demonstrated leadership qualities in Argentina with River Plate and Banfield, as well as in Mexico with Chivas. He has always had a winning mentality, both as a player and a coach, and most importantly, he is someone that knows how to redirect a team in a difficult situation with a commitment to a distinct style of play and youth development.”
Almeyda started his professional playing career with River Plate before moving to Europe and featuring in Spain and Italy. He was also capped 35 times by the Argentine national team, playing all five games for his country in the 1998 World Cup. The defensive midfielder finished his career where it all began, back with River Plate, before becoming the team’s head coach in 2011.
“This is a very special day for me,” Almeyda said via a translator. “I have a lot of happiness to be here and be part of this club. And I want to get to work and get this team back to a competitive level and fighting in MLS.”
The Earthquakes have been searching for a new head coach after relieving Mikael Stahre of his duties back on Sept. 17. Steve Ralston, an assistant coach with San Jose since 2015, has led the team on an interim basis since then and will continue to do so to end the season. Almeyda will take over the head coaching role in the offseason in preparation for 2019.
“Even though we have a winner here today, I want to make it very clear that we have not won anything yet,” Fioranelli said. “The bruises of this season are felt across the entire organization. I say this because the anger I feel, and we feel, is still real. We refuse, however, to accept the season we just lived in 2019. It will take a lot of hard work and buy-in from a lot of people.”
With a 4-20-8 record and two games left in the campaign, the Quakes are guaranteed to finish the season with their lowest points total in franchise history.