Dominic Kinnear will resign as head coach of the Houston Dynamo to become the manager of the San Jose Earthquakes following the conclusion of the regular season both clubs announced on Wednesday.
The Houston Chronicle reported the move late Tuesday, and with the word out, San Jose took the step of officially announcing Kinnear's hiring. In the process, the Quakes announced that manager Mark Watson was relived of his duties with two games left in the regular season, as was assistant Nick Dasovic. Assistant coach Ian Russell will be in charge for the rest of the current campaign. Kinnear will finish out the season in Houston before joining San Jose, who according to G.M. John Doyle will send an unspecified set of assets to Houston as compensation.
"As I'm sad to leave, I'm also excited to be returning back to the Earthquakes," said Kinnear on a conference call with reporters. "It's very hard to leave Houston, but if were to leave Houston, I'd only want to go to one place, and that's San Jose."
Kinnear and his wife Colleen have longstanding ties to the Bay Area, and Kinnear has long been angling to return. Kinnear was raised in Fremont, Calif. and it was in San Jose where he got his start as a coach, working as an assistant to then-manager Frank Yallop on both the 2001 and 2003 MLS Cup-winning sides.
Following Yallop's departure after the 2003 campaign, Kinnear was named manager and led San Jose to the Supporters Shield in 2005. When the team was relocated to Houston following that season, Kinnear led the Dynamo to two MLS Cup crowns and reached the final on two other occasions.
Yet while Kinnear is happy to be returning home, he stated it's a professional move as well.
"This isn't me going home and having parades and parties," said Kinnear. "I'm going home to be the coach of this team and try to make it a successful team in 2015 and beyond."
Kinnear and Doyle have also been lifelong friends since their youth soccer days, and were teammates on the U.S. national team. Now they will work together to revive the club as it prepares to open its new stadium next year.
"He's a great coach, that's the single most important thing, that's the motivation for bringing him to San Jose," said Doyle about Kinnear. "The amount of trust and respect I have for him as a person and as a coach is excellent. To be able to bring him home, to be able to have him lead this team...it's pretty special."
The very public hiring process proved to be messy for both clubs, in that there appeared to be no need to make such a move with the regular season ongoing. The Houston Chronicle reported last month that San Jose had received permission to talk to Kinnear. Multiple sources told ESPNFC.com that Kinnear flew to the Bay Area late last month to meet with San Jose's ownership and that he informed his staff of his decision to move back to the Bay Area last weekend. Sources added that within the last two weeks, Doyle told Watson that he would not manage the team beyond this season, making Watson a lame duck.
Quakes President David Kaval alluded to an unspecified time constraint as for why the push for Kinnear was made prior to the end of the season.
"It was our intention to wait," said San Jose President David Kaval. "We didn't want this to cloud the season. But really the only way that we were able to move forward was by basically doing it within the season, because we had a prescribed amount of time to work through an arrangement with Dominic. It wasn't our ideal situation, it's not something we wanted. We felt it made more sense to do it at the end of the season. But really it was the only way to acquire who we feel is the best possible coach for the San Jose Earthquakes."
Watson replaced Frank Yallop in the middle of the 2013 campaign, and was given the job full time after posting an 11-5-3 record. But 2014 has proven more difficult, with injuries and international call-ups cutting deep into San Jose's roster. The Quakes are currently in last place in the Western Conference with a record of 6-15-11 and are currently mired in a 13-game winless streak. Watson's overall regular season record with San Jose finishes at 17-20-14.
"The performance of the team wasn't where we wanted it to be, and that was when we decided we were going to go after a new coach, and Doninic Kinnear was our first choice," said Doyle.