One of the ugliest breakups in sports has come to a close as the San Jose Earthquakes and head coach Matias Almeyda have parted ways after three-plus seasons. A fractured relationship between the coach and the front office got worse during the offseason and Almeyda wanted to leave prior to the season.
The coach of Earthquakes 2, Alex Covelo, will take over as the interim coach and make his debut in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup against Bay Cities FC on Tuesday night. Assisting Covelo will be a team that includes club legend Chris Wondolowski, Steve Ralston and Luciano Fusco. Almeyda’s staff will also depart the club.
“I want to thank Matias and his staff for all their hard work and passion since 2019,” said Earthquakes General Manager Chris Leitch. “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.”
Despite the drama surrounding Almeyda and the club, he began the MLS season with the team and things got odder by the week, from strange personnel decisions — such as playing Jackson Yuiell at center back — to skipping media obligations. It has almost felt as if Almeyda was doing everything he could to lose his role. What’s interesting is that the players have backed him by playing hard enough to score seven goals over the past three games.
That scoring has only led to two points, however, as the Earthquakes allowed eight goals during the same period. Almeyda’s man-marking system can be a fun one when things go well, but things can escalate quickly with his unit as the opposition can score goals at an alarming rate.
Things came to a head on Friday when Almeyda said that there was no longer a clause in his contract and that he could leave for free as well as that he would be open to a return to Liga MX club Chivas Guadalajara. Chivas currently doesn’t have a permanent coach after firing Marcelo Michael Leano and the Mexican side has employed seven different coaches since Almeyda’s departure in 2018. Ricardo Cadena is currently serving the interim coach, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them at least open a dialogue with Almeyda if he’s available.
It’s hard to view Almeyda’s time in MLS as a success. He managed 102 matches but only won 33 of them while the team has cycled through players during his tenure. This isn’t all down to Almeyda as San Jose also hasn’t had stable leadership in the front office, but getting their next hire right will be important.
With the additions of Jan Gregus and Jamiro Montiero, the uptick in quality has already been seen in player acquisition, but now with Almeyda on the way out, the goal is to see the same improvements on the touchline. Seeing what the Quakes and Almeyda do next will be interesting to say the least.