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Mikael Starhe named as new head coach of San Jose Earthquakes

Chris Leitch returns to full-time role as Quakes technical director

IFK Goteborg  v Helsingborg - Swedish Allsvenskan League Photo by Bobbo Lauhage/EuroFootball/Getty Images

The San Jose Earthquakes on Friday announced that Mikael Stahre would take over the head coaching job from Chris Leitch, who would return to his full-time responsibilities as technical director, ahead of the 2018 MLS season.

Stahre, 42 years old, has been a head coach for 10 years, mostly in his native Sweden. He recently resigned from his position at BK Hacken after guiding them to a fourth place finish in the Allsvenskan, Sweden’s top tier soccer league.

"After a thorough evaluation process, we are excited that Mikael will be joining our club," said Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli in a statement. "What stood out with Mikael are not only the cups his teams won and his consistency over the past 10+ seasons, but also his ability to identify with our players, our coaching staff and most importantly our goals."

Fioranelli told reporters on a conference call that he had looked at candidates from around the world before narrowing his search to three in recent weeks. The decision to replace Leitch was one that was finalized during Fioranelli’s offseason evaluation conducted following the team’s exit from the MLS Cup playoffs in late October. Assistant coach Alex Covelo, who along with Leitch, took on coaching duties when Dominic Kinnear and John Spencer were fired in late June.

"I would like to take this occasion to thank Chris [Leitch] for his dedication to the club," continued Fioranelli. "We would not be where we are today without the contributions of Chris and Alex [Covelo] on the coaching staff. I look forward to working with him as he resumes his role as technical director. We are a special club with special people."

Stahre is a coach Fioranelli is familiar with, first learning about him when the Quakes GM was at Lazio. The Swede is known for a coaching style that starts with defensive tenacity and builds to an efficient offense. Under his guidance, his teams have averaged 1.7 points per game over his coaching career.

"I am very proud to be the new head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes and for the opportunity to work with Jesse Fioranelli and the other members of the organization," said Stahre. "I'm going to give everything I have to the Quakes and I am very excited about being a part of the future of the club."

Joining Stahre on his coaching staff will be long-time assistant Steve Ralston, the lone holdover from the beginning of this year. Other coaching appointments will be announced in the near future.