The sudden parting of ways between former head coach Frank Yallop and the San Jose Earthquakes took everyone by surprise on Friday, including the man named as his successor, Mark Watson, Yallop's trusted assistant coach with the Quakes for the past three-plus seasons, Watson inherits an underperforming team that still has goals of qualifying for the MLS postseason.
In a wide-ranging interview with Center Line Soccer, Watson spoke about the parting of ways between Yallop and the Quakes, his promotion to head coach, the influences that will help shape his coaching philosophy, and what he expects from himself and the team for the remainder of the season.
Watson has never served as a head coach in his professional career, but he has frequently been tasked with running the Reserve League squad over the past season and a half. The Vancouver, Canada native and former international defender spoke about restoring balance in the way the Earthquakes approach games. Molded by his years under Yallop, Watson hopes to build on that experience to take the Quakes past their recent struggles and back among the MLS elite.
"We have some fantastic players, players that are great on the ball, and we got away from having that great balance between possessing the ball and pushing forward and that is something I definitely will address in the coming weeks." -- Mark Watson
The Quakes will look to catch lightning in a bottle for the second time in franchise history following a Yallop departure. When Yallop left San Jose to become head coach of the Canadian national team, assistant coach Dominic Kinnear stepped up and arguably elevated the club to even higher levels of performance. Moved to Houston two years later, the franchise captured two straight MLS Cups.
Earthquakes team president Dave Kaval said recently that the"Frank Yallop coaching tree is a strong one." Watson has the pedigree of working under the franchise's most successful head coach. And starting now, he has the stage to prove he can be the next great coach in that lineage.