MLS

San Jose Fires Matias Almeyda, First MLS Casualty Of Season

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Two months are complete in this 2022 Major League Soccer season and there’s been a managerial change in the Bay Area.

Almeyda, Coaching Staff For Earthquakes Terminated

Monday afternoon, after a week’s worth of conversation, team meetings and speculation over when, not if, San Jose Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda and his staff would be fired, the hammer finally dropped.

Almeyda became the first manager to be fired during the 2022 MLS season with Monday’s move by the Earthquakes.

This decision to terminate Almeyda and his entire coaching staff, was made less than 48 hours after the Earthquakes managed to eke out a 2-2 draw at home on Saturday afternoon, against Nashville SC on the nationally-televised match on Univision.

Heading into this coming weekend’s game between the Earthquakes and the Seattle Sounders.

San Jose has gone winless in seven matches in MLS play, with the team drawing five out of its seven matches so far this season, dead last in the Western Conference standings at five points.

Almeyda was in the beginning of his fourth season as the manager in San Jose at the time of his firing on Monday.

Outside of MLS play, the Earthquakes entered the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, along with all other US-based MLS teams, on Tuesday night for a third-round fixture against National Independent Soccer Association side Bay Cities FC.

Hoping for their first win across all competitions in 2022.

San Jose coasted to the fourth round of the tournament with a 5-0 victory late Tuesday.

Interim Technical Staff Quickly Takes Shape in San Jose

The Earthquakes immediately launched the search for Matias Almeyda’s successor upon his termination Monday.

While appointing Alex Covelo, who served as the manager of San Jose Earthquakes II in MLS Next Pro, effective with Tuesday night’s US Open Cup match, as interim manager.

Subsequent to the appointment of Covelo as the Earthquakes’ interim manager, the Earthquakes announced that MLS’s No. 1 all-time goal scorer Chris Wondolowski would serve on Covelo’s interim technical staff, alongside former New England Revolution midfielder Steve Ralston and Luciano Fusco, a carryover from the original Earthquakes II technical staff.

Earthquakes Brass Comments on Almeyda’s Firing

In announcing the termination of the entirety of the Earthquakes’ coaching staff, team brass issued a few statements on the matter.

“Over the past four years, Matias has given everything he has to our club, and we recognize the efforts he made,” began San Jose managing partner John Fisher. “I have had a chance to get to know him and his family during his time here, and we really appreciate what they have done for the Earthquakes. We wish them well in the future.”

Chris Leitch Remarks on Almeyda’s Termination

Earthquakes’ general manager Chris Leitch also gave some comments regarding the firing of Matias Almeyda as San Jose’s head coach Monday afternoon.

“I want to thank Matias and his staff for all their hard work and passion since 2019,” Leitch said. “He has been a true professional and brought his full effort to every training session and match. Despite those efforts, we have not gotten the results that we or he wanted. We wish Matias and his staff the best of luck moving forward. There is still a lot of soccer to be played this season and we believe that we have a roster that can compete for the playoffs.”

It Wasn’t Pretty For Almeyda as Manager

Matias Almeyda was initially hired by the Earthquakes as the team’s manager following the 2018 MLS season.

He struggled mightily in charge of San Jose during his three plus years of service to the club.

Almeyda served as the Earthquakes’ manager in 98 MLS regular season matches between the start of the 2019 MLS season and last Saturday, finishing his tenure with a 31-42-25 record during that span for a winning percentage of .444.

The timing of Almeyda’s firing was a head-scratching move for MLSsoccer.com’s Tom Bogert, who wrote a Tuesday column as to why the team felt Monday was the right moment to terminate him as the manager.

“Why now, seven games into the 2022 season?” Bogert opined. “Why not during the offseason, when fractures between the staff and front office began to appear publicly with Almeyda heading into the final year of his contract?”

In the three full seasons that Almeyda served as San Jose’s manager, the Earthquakes clinched a playoff berth just once, the COVID-19-affected 2020 MLS season.

During the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs, the Earthquakes were the bottom qualifier in the Western Conference bracket, but hung with top-seeded Sporting Kansas City in the opening-round match which finished 3-3 after extra time, only to lose on penalty kicks 3-0 to be bounced from the postseason.

Almeyda Expected to Be Fired Earlier

Matias Almeyda believed that his termination as the manager for the San Jose Earthquakes would come sooner than it actually did.

According to a story from ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, “Sources told ESPN that Almeyda told the team after last week’s 4-3 loss to Houston that he was “done” as San Jose manager and that he would talk to the team the following Monday. But when Monday came there was no further clarity as to his future. Those sources also said that this is something Almeyda has said to the team more than once in the wake of difficult losses.”

Final Thoughts

During his time as the manager of the San Jose Earthquakes, Matias Almeyda believed that he was a marked man.

The fact that he met with his players on multiple occasions and informed them that he expected to receive a notice of termination leading up to the Earthquakes’ next match is proof of that.

At the core, MLS, much like any other sports organization in the world is, a business.

A cardinal rule of the business world is also a harsh reality of it:

Anyone can be fired and replaced at any given moment, oftentimes without advanced warning to the terminated party.

In the maternity ward of a hospital, the color pink is always a wondrous, beautiful, and happy sight to behold.

However, in the business world, when someone sees the color pink, as Matias Almeyda did from the San Jose Earthquakes on Monday afternoon, it is the ugliest hue imaginable.


Main Image credit MLS Major League soccer

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